Remember that scene from the 2014 superhit sci-fi film ‘Interstellar‘ where Cooper and his daughter Murph hijack and bring down an Indian airforce drone using nothing but an old laptop and a radio antenna?
Pretty cool right?
You must be wondering if such an ‘anti-drone’ system is available in the real world that can help us disable rouge and intrusive drones on our property.
Before we divulge into discussing ways on how to disable a drone on your property, please note that this is not your how-to guide to shooting down drones that are flying over your house (more on this below).
Drones are a security & privacy threat
This might seem a little harsh coming from a fellow drone enthusiast but not all of us are very considerate about other people’s privacy and safety.
Commercial camera drones are becoming cheaper and better so more and more people are buying them.
Some new drone owners are not well aware of local privacy laws surrounding drones.
So other people who are not very fond of these flying cameras are on the lookout for ways to protect themselves against such rogue drones and might think of how to take down a drone when it is being intrusive.
Can you fly a drone over private property?
You can fly drones over private property. The airspace above your property is owned by the FAA and any activity that occurs in that airspace that does not violate the FAA laws is legal.
According to the FAA, shooting down or damaging a drone in the air is illegal and you might be liable for damages claimed by the drone owner.
However, if you can prove that the drone
- is violating your privacy by recording videos or taking pictures without your consent
- is putting yourself or a member of your family in danger by reckless flying
- is interfering with your life in any other way
you might have a legal case against the drone owner. But keep in mind that such claims are very hard to prove.
We might not yet have an answer for how to legally take down a drone. The technology has evolved at a much greater speed and the laws have not caught up yet.
I have written a comprehensive article to discuss if is it legal to fly drones over houses.
How to disable a drone on your property?
Now that we are clear about the legal aspect of (not) shooting down a drone, let’s discuss the fun and creative ways on how to stop drones from flying over your house and property.
Most of them are developed for or by law enforcement agencies around the world to deal with reckless flying machines.
Please note again that this article is not your “how-to guide” for shooting down other people’s drones.
1. Shoot it down with a gun
Shooting down a drone using a good ol’ shotgun is one of the easiest and most effective methods BUT this isn’t for common people.
FAA fought hard to classify drones as aircraft (so that they can regulate them) and under federal code 18 §32, the destruction of an aircraft is a felony offense with a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
So, can you shoot a drone over your property?
Shooting down a drone flying over your property is illegal and a federal felony and can land you in jail for up to 20 years.
This method should only be used by law enforcement agencies in extreme cases where a drone poses a threat to civilian lives, property, or national security.
2. Use anti-drone drones
This is a much safer way of bringing down a rogue drone from the skies.
The anti-drone drones use nets to capture and bring down drones without destroying them beyond repair.
Tokyo metropolitan police developed one such program back in 2015 when the Prime Minister’s office was supposedly attacked by a drone carrying a small amount of radioactive material.
This anti-drone drone will carry a 3×2 meter of net that will intercept and capture the unauthorized drone in any restricted area and bring it down safely.
Inspired by the Tokyo police, many private companies have come up with similar solutions that involve a flying drone with a catching net.
One similar product is developed by Delft Dynamics called DroneCatcher.
It is a multirotor drone with an automatic track, trace, and capture functionality using a net similar to the Tokyo police.
3. Use net-firing anti-drone guns
Another similar but more sophisticated solution is the use of a specialized gun that can fire a net over the flying drone from the ground using compressed air projectiles.
One of my favorites is the Skywall Patrol developed by UK-based Openworks Engineering.
It uses an intelligent tracking, locking, and launching system with the ability to capture a drone as high as 100m in the air.
It’s cost-effective in comparison to other large ground-based systems, highly mobile, and has low collateral damage.
4. Jam the drone’s radio communications
This might seems like a high-tech, sci-fi solution but in reality, it’s a very simple way to disable a drone on your property.
All drones depend on radio communication with the remote controller for flight plans and with satellites for accurate GPS positioning.
All you have to do is use a radio source to disrupt or “jam” that communication and the drone can be landed safely or sent back.
There are two ways to do this.
SIGNAL JAMMING: In signal jamming, you use a radio noise to disrupt the drone’s communication with its pilot.
Once jammed, the drone can either be landed on the spot or return home if the RTH (return to home) function is enabled in the onboard computer.
The RTH function is present in most modern drones including all DJI drone models.
SIGNAL SPOOFING: In signal spoofing, you use a radio signal to impersonate the pilot’s original signal and control the drone’s flight plan.
This way, you can safely land the drone or look into the video feed the drone is sending back to the pilot.
Although as funny as it might seem, jamming or spoofing drone radio signals is highly illegal in most countries including the USA.
In fact in the USA, the FAA even prohibits the police and local law enforcement agencies from using jammers.
So, if you are thinking about getting one for yourself, make sure you won’t get in trouble for using it.
Radio jamming solutions are available for the military and authorized law enforcement agencies only.
Maybe, someday when the relevant laws are updated, you might have a simple drone jammer app on your smartphones or you can make your own DIY drone jammers.
But for now, this tech is only available for the big guys.
One of my favorite jammers is developed by an Australian company DroneSheild. It’s called DroneGun and is available for authorized use only.
How does it work? See a video story below.
5. Use trained eagles to capture drones
Yes, you read that right. The Dutch police have partnered up with a raptor training company called Guard From Above to train and use mighty eagles to intercept and take down unauthorized drones.
Compared to other conventional methods of rogue drone intercept, this one is a bit safer since prey birds are really good at plucking something out of midair as they do it for living.
However, this can only work with drones of smaller size like a DJI Mini 2 but with larger drones, the safety of the birds comes into question.
Especially in countries like the US where animal rights are well protected, this might create legal problems with animal rights organizations.
How to stop drones from flying over your house? – Conclusion
As a drone enthusiast, I am really excited about everyday technical development and improvements.
But we have to be responsible flyers in the skies so that our hobby does not bother the people around us or put someone’s privacy or safety in danger.
If you are someone bothered by an intrusive drone, instead of taking the law into your own hand, please consider contacting your local law enforcement.
That way, your actions do not result in destroying someone’s property and getting you into any legal trouble.
Happy and safe flying everyone.