Intelligent Machines

In Davos, the Police Will Disarm Your Drone in a Heartbeat

The World Economic Forum event is policed with drone-jamming devices to stop would-be terror threats and the paparazzi.

Jan 18, 2017

Every January, Earth’s wealthy business leaders, influential politicians, and forward-thinking academics convene at the ski resort of Davos in Switzerland. There, they discuss how the planet can be made a better place. It’s the perfect opening scene for a disaster movie in which the world’s elite die a fiery death.

Luckily, Swiss police are on hand with a drone gun.

Actually, as Bloomberg points out, that’s not a gun as such, but a drone jammer—the HP 47 Counter UAV Jammer, to be precise. It doesn’t shoot the aircraft out of the sky: instead, it prevents it from being controlled remotely, leaving it hovering in midair, and stops images or video being sent back to its owner.

The police could, of course, then level a gunshot if required. Or a net. Maybe a drone security guard. Perhaps even an eagle. And if all else fails, the battery should run out at some point.

It’s obvious that security needs to be tight in Davos. And tight it is: as USA Today reported yesterday, a double fence of barbed wire, army presence, and a 25-nautical mile no-fly zone around the site are put in place to protect it from the outside world.

So it’s perhaps no surprise that drones are now considered to be a major concern, too. Paparazzi could use the devices to monitor the movements of the great-and-good on the ground, or terrorists could do far worse. Popular Science recently reported, for instance, that ISIS has been retrofitting regular consumer drones with tiny bombs.

Two years ago, a team of BBC journalists was questioned after it used a drone in the no-fly zone around Davos. Since then, the event’s security team has clearly doubled down on ensuring they don’t pose a problem. Let’s hope no drone swarms rear their heads, though—otherwise some backup might be required.

(Read more: BloombergUSA Today, “Drone Security Guard Scolds Intruders from the Sky,” “A 100-Drone Swarm, Dropped from Jets, Plans Its Own Moves”)