Tuesday, September 21, 2021

DroneClash: the Dutch answer to the Gatwick Incident

Delft, the Netherlands. 10th January 2019. DroneClash, the world’s first counter-drone competition, is today announcing its final call for entries, with a spoof video

The film shows a drone circling a tower at “Katwick Airport”, before a close-up reveals that the drone is carrying a banner, advertising DroneClash 2019’s top prize of € 30,000.

The second edition of DroneClash, dubbed a “Robot Wars in 3D” will take place on March 16th 2019 in Katwijk, the Netherlands. This spectacular competition will see teams put new innovations in counter-drone technology to the test by battling it out in a specially constructed arena in the Katwijk aircraft hangar. The aim of the game is simple: use fighter drones to bring down the Queen drone of the opposing team using whatever means possible. The only restriction is no jamming.

Before fighter drones can attack the opposing team’s Queen drone, they must navigate the Hallway of Doom, Death and Destruction, where the Dutch police will employ counter-drone measures in an attempt to snare or slow the drones, some of which are capable of speeds of close to 200 kph.

With seven international early-bird teams already preparing for battle, it’s now time for more drone enthusiasts to enrol: http://www.droneclash.nl/teams/

Teams will be in with a chance of winning a share of €50,000 in prize money.Entries to DroneClash 2019 will close on January 31st.

Gatwick: the importance of counter-drone technology.

DroneClash, an initiative of the Delft University of Technology’s Micro Aerial Vehicle Laboratory (MAV Lab),  is a fun event with the serious aim of stimulating research in counter-drone technology. For society to enjoy the benefits of drones – whether it be for medical purposes, logistics or leisure – it’s also vital to be able to maintain drone-free areas. The authorities have to be able to bring down malevolent drones.

The drone incident at Gatwick demonstrated the importance of strong policy and effective counter-drone technology. The incident caused the airport to be shut down on multiple occasions between 19th and 21st December 2018, impacting an estimated 1,000 flights and 140,000 passengers, many of whom were trying to return home for Christmas. It took the British army and the reported use of an Israeli system called Drone Dome to detect and jam the drone signals, bringing the drone disruption to a stop.

Where eagles dare

Post-Gatwick, discussion about counter-drone technology has repeatedly referred to the Dutch Police’s (past) trial of bald eagles as drone interceptors. With their excellent long-range vision (which enables them to spot rabbits at a distance of 5 km), their acrobatic swooping skills and their razor sharp talons, bald eagles proved to be a promising solution. But getting birds of prey fully engaged in an organisation is something else! There need for a technical and scalable solution remains. It most likely needs to combine clever software with easy-to-use hardware. As with most tricky engineering and science problems, collaboration is key…hence DroneClash.

DroneClash’s sponsors

DroneClash is sponsored by the Dutch Ministry of Defence (the head sponsor) and the Dutch Police. In the spirit of international collaboration, the Dutch Police have extended a warm welcome to their counterparts in other European countries to either join forces in an international police team, or to join a Counter-Drone Coalition meeting which will take place on the same day as DroneClash.