Colleges are Protecting Football Games from Drones – and Rogue Pilots are Getting Arrested

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By Nkyleft – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Most football stadiums have a sign at the entrance: in addition to the prohibition against outside food or drink, weapons, and video cameras, drones are not allowed.  Since drones may be launched from outside of the stadium, however, pilots may think that the rule is unenforceable – but they’d be wrong.

In a rarely disclosed report of a security event, Austrailian counter drone company DroneShield says that at the opening game of a Division 1 football game this year, a rogue pilot flew a drone over the stadium – filled with more than 100,000 people – at the beginning of the third quarter.  Unfortunately for the pilots, the stadium was protected by a counter drone system which allowed law enforcement to track the drone in real time, recover it quickly  – and arrest the operator.

image: DroneShield

DroneShield protection is not obvious to rogue pilots, but it provides thorough coverage against incoming drones.  The DroneShield system uses a multi-sensor system: radar tracks any moving object, radio frequency sensors give a direction of bearing, and cameras and thermal sensors allow users to view intruding drones.

According to a company press release, the system has been used in a wide variety of environments: “[DroneShield] can be operated in a layered stand-alone defensive system or integrated into a larger command and control common operating system,” says the release.  DroneShield recently won an Australian Department of Defense contract for portable counterdrone devices and formed a partnership with multinational telecomm giant BT Group to provide counterdrone solutions to U.K. customers.

Oleg Vornik, DroneShield’s Chief Executive Officer, commented: “The threat of drones to the public is real, clear and present. Most of the time, we are unable to disclose to the public the specifics of the deployments in which our products are utilised, or the very real and effective outcomes that our products achieve in protecting the public, service men and women, law enforcement, and others. We are pleased to be able to share this positive outcome with the public today.”


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