To counter a drone, the drone must first be seen. RfZero, the latest offering from counterdrone systems company DroneShield, is a stand-alone drone detection system that can fit into a larger counterdrone apparatus, and is aimed primarily at commercial and law enforcement users, situations where passive detection without active jamming is an easier sell. DroneShield announced the RfZero Aug. 1.
“The device needs minimal infrastructure,” said Oleg Vornik, RfZero chief executive officer, specifying that a normal domestic power source would be fine. “It could also be installed at a forward operating base, with a generator or battery supply, as required.”
Each RfZero tower’s detection is omnidirectional, with a 1 km radius circle of detection, with higher ranges (up to 2 km) possible in certain environments. A network of RfZero sensors can be used together, providing broader coverage and integrating into the same software platform used by the customer.
DroneShield identifies the RfZero as a lower-cost option compared to systems like its RfOne, and gives a price range of five figures, with an optional annual database update subscription. The software can run on customer-owned tablet or computer, and so does not require specialized hardware.
“The device works by passively listening to the RF signatures of drones,” said Vornik. “DroneShield provides regular updates to the database. Government drones are not covered”
Customers looking for a specifically military detection tool will need to go elsewhere, but with the regular use of commercial and hobbyist models by nonstate actors for everything from scouting to cargo transport to even armed attacks, there’s a role for commercial drone detection on a battlefield.
DroneShield is explicitly marketing the RfZero to prisons, VIPs, commercial sites, mining industry, events and qualified corporate users, while directing airport and military customers to its RfOne offering instead. Drone detection is just part of a drone mitigation package, though perhaps the institutional entry-level price point is worth it for situations where a positive drone identification would go great lengths to determine if a threat is real or imagined. That includes airports like Gatwick, which shut down for over 30 hours following reports of drones in December 2018, and it may apply to certain military installations, too.
“A military customer may be interested in the product, where they don’t need to exactly pinpoint and track the threat (i.e., just a single circle of an alarm is sufficient),” said Vornick.
Kelsey Atherton blogs about military technology for C4ISRNET, Fifth Domain, Defense News, and Military Times. He previously wrote for Popular Science, and also created, solicited, and edited content for a group blog on political science fiction and international security.