- Technology - Democratising drone defence

By SuperyachtNews

Democratising drone defence

We speak with Richard Gill, CEO of Drone Defence, about trickle down economics and educating the market  …

Security on superyachts has rapidly come to the forefront of conversation amongst industry peers. Indeed, as we transition into the digital age, privacy in general has become an incredibly valuable commodity. For most UHNW individuals, the idea of being able to escape the rest of the world and become truly free and independent is a major part of the allure of owning a superyacht in the first place - it's possibly one of the strongest unique selling points the industry has to offer. The fact that the luxury of privacy can be stripped away from a superyacht owner at the hands of anyone with a webcam and a little remote control helicopter is almost as tragic as it is comical.

However, Drone Defence - a company based in the Midlands of the UK are setting out a plan to make drone defence technology a more standardised product on board private vessels. While drone defence is currently seen as a highly bespoke feature, used mainly for superyachts over 60 metres in length, the company believe superyachts in the 40-60 metre range can also benefit. Drone Defence recently entered into a partnership with Dynamiq superyacht builders, in a bid to supply the counter-drone needs for buyers of next-generation yachts. Their innovative drone counter-measures are now integrated on Dynamiq’s fully customisable yachts.

Speaking exclusively with SuperyachtNews, Richard Gill, CEO of Drone Defence, highlighted the current client pool: “We're seeing that in the 60 metres plus category drone defence systems are almost becoming a part of the spec for new builds. Now, that demonstrates that new clients are coming into the industry fully aware of this and implementing the latest security systems along with CCTV and other measures. And I think that what's happened over the last few years as well, is that access to drone security systems has become much more affordable. So we're not talking crazy sums of money anymore.”

The increasing demand for drone defence systems is not only down to having a more educated market, there has also been an increase in the number of attacks. Gill revealed that at least one or two yachts per week have been getting in touch with his company about drone attacks. He revealed that just last week a ‘very famous family’ had been in touch after their yacht was intruded on by a drone off the coast of Miami during thanksgiving weekend.

“I think that there is a lot of invasion of privacy from people who might be paparazzi.” Gill explained that they, “Haven't seen sort of any large attacks as it were, such as people wishing to cause harm to owners - we haven't seen that. What we can offer for that is radio frequency based technology which passively listens out for the drones transmission as well as the video stream. And then obviously rendering that drone and stopping it from getting anywhere near the yacht. It’s a simple case of blocking the transmission signal between the drone and the operator.”

There have been a number of calls from different corners of the industry asking why crew aren’t being educated on cyber security and a wider range of safety training techniques. Despite this, Gill, as a former military man, understands how arduous and time consuming it can be to teach new methods to those who are already expected to act as living Swiss army knives. That's why the Drone Defence product is designed with ‘plug and play’ easy to use software that even the greenest masters of none can operate.

There is of course some knowledge that needs to be passed on to the crew members, Gill says, “You could see if it's flying across or away from the yacht and it’s good to understand that it is actually illegal to go within 50 metres of something that's deemed outside of your control with a drone. So we try to teach people what the likely intention is. But we've designed our interface and our systems so you can just plug it into the yacht, and then the drone shows up on the map when it becomes detected and then you get a couple of options for what you want to do to it.”

The interesting dynamic is that drone attacks are usually perceived as a risk of physical harm, however, the biggest threat with drone attacks is actually how it can threaten privacy - a risk which can sometimes be even more harmful. Gill states,

"We spend a lot of time trying to educate owners teams and other stakeholders to say, actually, let's quantify that risk and then get you an appropriate package and then we can go through the process and settle on the right thing for you. "

With more yachts being built than ever before, and the need to ensure the final product is future proof, it is likely that we will see companies such as Drone Defence capitalise on a burgeoning market place. It will be interesting to witness the extent of their success as the next generation of owners enter the marketplace with their tech savvy knowledge and educated understanding of what the real threats to livelihood are in the digital age.


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