Buying a drone at your local Best Buy and playing around with it in the park or your backyard sounds like fun times.
But that easy availability has also created a situation far more serious and fraught with potential risks in commercial and military settings.
Gatwick airport shutdown. Just think back to the havoc that a drone caused in 2018 when Gatwick airport was shut down for two days after an alleged drone sighting. BTW, that sighting remains a mystery as neither the drone nor its operator was ever found by police.
Terrorists and drones. And even more ominous is the apparent increase in the use of drones by terrorist groups. A recent article in Forbes by an industry engineer observed that drones could become as ubiquitous as IEDs in the global war on terror. Drone swarms being employed by terrorists are becoming increasingly common on the battlefield. Not to be cheeky, but the Drone Wars are coming.
Los Angeles-based Epirus is building software defined high-powered microwave (HPM) applications for the defense and commercial sectors. The company bills itself as the only U.S. developer of software-defined electromagnetic pulse (EMP) technology which is a short burst of directed energy used to take down unmanned aircraft systems, ie. drones.
Epirus’ EMP tech is kind of like the “Pinch” from the movie Ocean’s Eleven – which Basher uses to take out the electrical grid and beat the security system guarding the Bellagio vault. The Epirus EMP system is fittingly called Leonidas and uses a short burst of directed energy to neutralize drones.
Northrop Grumman tie up. Epirus recently signed a strategic supplier agreement with Northrop Grumman to provide its EMP capability as a component of Northrop Grumman’s Counter-Unmanned Aerial System (C-UAS) systems-of-systems solution offering.
Recent $70m financing and anti-drone market growth. Epirus also announced $70 million in Series B financing led by Bedrock Capital and including L3Harris Technologies, Piedmont Capital Investments, 8VC, Fathom VC and Greenspring Associates. The anti-drone market is expected to grow from $499 million in 2018 to $2.3 billion by 2024, a CAGR of 28.8%
The company is expanding its headcount by 100 and expanding application of its technology to commercial use. This initiative is dubbed SmartPower which utilizes artificial intelligence-enabled Gallium Nitride (GaN) semiconductors to produce extreme levels of power density during high-powered microwave (HPM) transmission, without special cooling. This has the potential for far reaching impact in battery technology and power management.