Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
As drone technology becomes a significant part of our lifestyle, it’s unfortunate that some drone pilots use them for criminal acts. For example, some drone pilots use the devices to sneak mobile phones, drugs, and other prohibited stuff into prisons.
Consequently, the need for counter-drone technology, including detective and defensive approaches, has risen. One of the defensive mechanisms is drone jamming.
Can drones be jammed?
Yes, drones can be jammed. Drone jamming interferes with the radio link signal through which a command is given due to the overwhelming radio noise. As a result, the gadget may attempt a soft landing, return to a location where it could receive commands or even crash.
This article explores this anti-drone technology, how it works, its legality, and more. Let’s get started.
Table of contents
- What Is a Drone Jammer?
- Can Drones Be Jammed?
- Are Drone Jammers Legal?
- Disadvantages of the Drone Jamming Technology:
- Should Drone Pilots Worry About Drone Jammers?
- Wrap Up:
What Is a Drone Jammer?
A drone jammer is an anti-drone technology designed to interfere with communication between the device and its pilot.
The jammer sends disrupting radio signals by blasting electromagnetic noise, tempering with the drone’s operation and information emission.
The high-power jammer signals effectively drown out transmission between the drone and its pilot.
Moreover, these anti-drone devices can be immobile, mounted, or designed as high-mobility gun-like devices to allow a safe drone landing. So, do these gadgets work against unmanned aircraft?
Let’s learn more about this technology in our next section.
Can Drones Be Jammed?
Yes, drones can be jammed. Jammers localize the drone’s radio frequency signals in direction and time to produce a jamming signal.
A drone operates by receiving commands from its controller through a radio link. The link can be lost if the frequency is overpowered by intentional jamming.
Consequently, the drone returns to its home location, land normally, or crash due to losing connection with the pilot. However, most commercial drones automatically fly back to their operator.
Why Use Drone Jammers?
Mostly, the use of drone jammers is for security reasons and privacy protection.
As much as drone technology contributes to better living, it also threatens our livelihood when the device lands in the wrong hands. That necessitates the use of drone radio signal jammers.
Anti-drone technology has become an excellent public safety and national security solution. Therefore, with this technology, no-drone zones such as white-house, prisons, and airports are safe from malicious drone operators.
However, it must be appropriately regulated to prevent messing up with genuine drone operations.
Are Drone Jammers Legal?
No, drone jammers aren’t legal in the US. Although the counter-drone technology is meant to enhance national security, it’s potentially a threat to most of the existing laws of the land. These regulations include the following:
- FCC Regulations
- US Criminal Code
- The communication act of 1934
- Civil Damages
Let’s see how the anti-drone technology, jammers, can violate the above laws of the land. Keep reading.
1. FCC Regulations-
Since Federal law protects the radio communication user, it forbids interference with authorized signals. Authorized radio communications include police radar, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), police radar, and cellular and Personal Communication Services (PCS).
Drone jammers can prevent emergency calls such as 9-1-1, posing a threat to public safety communication and other regular communications.
Thus, FCC regulations prohibit any jamming device’s marketing, sale, or operation contrary to its stipulations. However, the regulations have certain exceptions, including using these gadgets in US government institutions.
2. US Criminal Code-
Several provisions of the US Criminal Code argue against drone jammer technology.
The law prohibits radio communications, satellite interference, and aircraft (including drones) destruction. Additionally, the anti-drone activity may be interpreted as hacking, and thus, it’s against the code.
This code is potentially at risk of violation whenever drone jammers are at work. That’s enough proof that the act is illegal. Thus, it’s unlikely that an individual will get authorization to use the technology even for security purposes.
Even willful or malicious drone shootings can result in a criminal or civil case that will likely rule against you.
3. The Communication Act of 1934-
The Act advocates for telegraph, telephone, and radio communications.
Drone jammers disrupt public communication frequencies a lot as it does to cell phone signals. According to Section 333 of Title 47 of the US Code (The Communication Act of 1934), this interference renders their use illegal.
This section prohibits malicious or willful disruption of any type of radio communication.
Hence, since this is the sole function of drone jammers, their manufacture, importation, or use must be under the Federal government’s authorization. Also, the user must obtain a license under the commission’s rules.
4. Civil Damages-
Whether you’re an authorized or unauthorized drone jammer user, the gadget will likely cause the drone’s crash or loss of control, property, or personal injury. Hence, there’s potential liability during the use of the technology.
For this reason, it’s erratic for private facilities such as airports and utility companies to start using anti-drone devices.
Disadvantages of the Drone Jamming Technology:
Below are 5 major drawbacks of these counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-UAS) devices:
- Signal disruption affects nearby communication signals like cell phones which prevent emergency calls.
- The technology is less effective on pre-programmed drones since they can fly without GPS.
- The use of drone jammers is prohibited in most countries like the US.
- Drone jammers lack positive control over the target drone.
- They fail to locate the flight path or pilot.
Should Drone Pilots Worry About Drone Jammers?
No, drone pilots shouldn’t worry about drone jammers. Below are some reasons why your drone isn’t at risk of interference or destruction during its flight:
- Collateral damage possibility
- Jammers’ Inaccuracy
- Federal laws violation
1. Collateral Damage Possibility-
The use of drone jammers has a high likelihood of causing collateral damage. The technology can cause personal injury and property damage if the target drone crashes.
Additionally, it interferes with any authorized signals around. The results include inconveniences and outright disasters in highways, airports, and massively crowded events.
The above consequences of unauthorized drone jamming outweigh the risk of unidentified drones. As a result, the technology is heavily regulated, making it a slim possibility that a civilian could be using it.
In addition, drone jammers are prohibitively expensive and heavily regulated to find a manufacturer who sells them to private individuals. Currently, anti-drone technology is limited to areas with sensitive security needs and heavily crowded events like the Olympics.
Hence, if you don’t fly your drone in such places, you don’t have to worry about its safety.
2. Jammers’ Inaccuracy-
Drone jammers lack precision. Emitting electromagnetic signals to disrupt drone operations is highly inaccurate compared to a physical shot.
First, radio waves are invisible, making it difficult to direct them to the drone. Secondly, the drone is too tiny and fast-moving as a jammer’s target. Third, the drone jammer’s size makes it visible to the pilot. Hence, they can use evasive measures to counteract it.
3. Federal Laws Violation-
The fact that this technology is potentially threatening various laws of the land makes it an unusual activity. Hence, it’s infrequent that your drone will encounter such a counter experience along its flight path. Only a few authorized individuals can access and use these gadgets.
Are Drone Jammers Effective?
Yes, drone jammers are effective. They disconnect the drone from its operator, causing it to land softly or return to a point where it reconnects with the user.
However, there are certain instances where jammers may be ineffective: The drone is pre-programmed to fly in a particular path without a GPS.
Do Jammers Stop Cameras?
Yes, jammers can stop cameras. These devices are powerful enough to interfere with Wi-Fi security camera recording in an entire street. It’s a significant risk to the community’s overall security. It’s no wonder they’re illegal and hence, difficult to find.
How Do You Know If There Is a Signal Jammer In The Area?
You can use a jammer-detecting app to know if there’s a signal jammer around. However, the effectiveness of these apps is yet to be proven. For this reason, highly advanced military-level technology is considered the best approach. Unfortunately, such detectors aren’t available to an average drone user.
Can Military Drones Avoid Jamming?
Yes, military drones can avoid jamming. Military drones like the Turkish Bayraktar use electronic filters to prevent interference from the anti-drone technology.
The filters do so by minimizing noise and consequently resisting jamming. Unfortunately, consumer drones aren’t privileged to have this protective capability.
Drones can be jammed. While this counter-drone technology may sound fantastic to those who want to guard their privacy and security against drone users, it has its fair share of risks. Users can easily violate its use.
Therefore, the strict regulation of drone jamming is to the advantage of drone users.
The regulation also extended to these devices’ manufacture, sale, and importation. Thus, the drone community is safe from willful and malicious drone jammer users. This technology is sparingly used and only under Federal Government Authorization.
As an average drone pilot, you have nothing to worry about if you don’t do so in prohibited places.