Recode – Consumer-grade drones pose an enormous security risk. And as more people buy into the technology, law enforcement worldwide has been exploring ways to take them down, from eagles that snag drones in midair to net-wielding drones that can capture unwanted aircraft.
San Francisco-based anti-drone company Dedrone announced Monday that it has raised $15 million in its Series B funding round led by Felicis Ventures and by John Chambers, the executive chairman of Cisco.
Off-the-shelf drones have been used to carry drugs into prisons. A drone in Iraq was strapped with a bomb to turn it into an unmanned kamikaze robot. They’ve been used to spy on neighbors. Cross borders. The list goes on.
Over 670,000 drones were registered in the U.S. alone last year, according to the FAA.
“Our biggest amount of customers are in data centers,” said Jörg Lamprecht, CEO of Dedrone. “You can use drones to hack into networks. You can equip a drone with snooping devices to steal data. Or you can fly a drone into the facility’s air conditioner on the rooftop, which would cause the data center to quickly overheat and break down.”
Dedrone has built what is essentially a library of nearly every type of off-the-shelf drone for sale in the world, which it uses to identify and locate aircraft from up to three quarters of a mile away using sensors installed around the vicinity of the area aiming to be protected. The company can then tell the drone’s make and model and analyze whether it’s carrying a malicious payload.
Then the company can deploy a signal jammer to cause the drone to lose radio contact with its remote operator and make the drone come down or travel to its starting point. Dedrone’s signal jamming is only available to law enforcement, embassies and other state actors, since the amount of disturbance it causes to other radio signals can be dangerous to other devices that depend on radio communication.
Every single one of Dedrone’s customers has had to use their detection system within seven days of installation; a minimum of 10 drones are detected or disarmed a day with Dedrone, says Lamprecht.
With the new funding, Dedrone plans to increase its global sales team and try to do more business with military clients. Fifty weaponized off-the-shelf drones a day cross over into military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan alone, according to Lamprecht.
The company’s anti-drone technology was also used by local law enforcement to protect the airspace during the first presidential debate in September last year.
Another anti-drone company, San Diego-based SkySafe, secured $3 million in seed funding from Andreessen Horowitz last year. There’s also DroneShield, which makes anti-drone technology and went public in Australia last summer.