The explosion in popularity of hobbyist and consumer drones can't be denied - indeed, experts estimate that the consumer drone industry will top $1 billion in annual sales in 2018.
But modern variants present something of a potential problem for superyachts, owners and guests. "Drone protection is a rather new field," says Johannes Pinl, CEO and founder of security specialists MARSS. “Three or four years ago when you specced a yacht nobody would have asked for protection against drones, but that has changed dramatically especially when we are providing security solutions and building a security shield around the yacht."
The problem is exacerbated in two ways. First, detecting an incoming drone is incredibly difficult to do, and second even if you can detect a drone, what are you actually allowed to do to mitigate the potential threat?
“Unfortunately there is no 100 per cent solution out there yet,” Pinl continues. “There’s a lot of marketing out there claiming a solution that will solve all your drone problems, but it is wrong. Drones are small, fast, and very difficult to detect and defeat.
But there is an approach to mitigate the issue.” Pinl suggests a multi-tiered approach that MARSS has proven to be effective in the detection process, involving maritime X band radar, radio frequency (RF) monitoring and finally visual confirmation through cameras.
While the legal waters may be muddy, it is clear that the threat of drones – even when viewed purely from the point of view of the privacy of owner and guests on board – is on the rise. And while there are ways now not only to detect an incoming drone threat but also, potentially, to physically defeat that threat, perhaps the best advice is simply to alert the owner and guests, raise some parasols, or move them inside until the threat has passed.