In the latest edition of Superyacht Technology magazine, MARSS addresses the myths and complexities surrounding drone detection for Superyachts.
For superyacht owners and their crew, drones are a cause for concern. “In terms of threat to the yacht owner it really does depend on the client,” says Johannes Pinl, CEO and Founder, MARSS. “Our clients include many different profiles such as heads of state or public figures but what we are finding is that the main issue from the drone point of view is really down to privacy protection.”
When it comes to rules and regulations, these are mostly related to operating a drone from an aviation/collision avoidance point of view and not privacy protection. There are laws on distances that should be kept between a drone and an asset or members of the public, but this varies depending upon location. The requirement for operator licences is also becoming increasingly common.
One of the principal challenges of drone detection for vessels is that both the drone and vessel are moving in an ever-changing environment, making long distance and reliable detection challenging. Furthermore, many clients view countermeasures such as jammers as a go-to solution but this does not fully address the problem.
Drone protection requires a multi-layered approach starting with monitoring and detection – you need to know that a drone is there before you can do anything about it.
Pinl explains: “Traditionally, these different sensors would standalone and would not be able to share information with a wider system. So you could have radar, cameras, sonar etc, and all of these would be independent components. As an integrated and automated system, NiDAR is able to pull data together from separate pieces of hardware into one place.”
Preventative measures once a drone has been detected should be used with precaution. Pinl adds “Whilst technically achievable, RF and GPS jamming are generally frowned upon or it is expressly stated that they are prohibited. Governments and police forces, for example, are permitted to use jamming but individuals (including superyachts) generally are not.”
As such, the best protection against drones from a superyacht operations perspective at this point in time is achieved by focusing more on early detection and warning to enable guests and crew to act, rather than relying on jamming countermeasures due to the legal issues mentioned.