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Boise Company Demonstrates How to Stop a Drone Attack at Idaho's Capitol

The Boise-based drone-tech company, Black Sage, showed the governor and other elected officials how it would thwart an attacking drone.

by John Sowell, The Idaho Statesman / February 21, 2018

(TNS) — A Boise company wants to show how its technology could thwart a drone attack on the Idaho capitol building.

On Feb. 21, Black Sage Technologies sent two drones to fly around the capitol. The ground technology employed uses Doppler radar, radio frequency detection, thermal imaging cameras and other equipment to locate the drones.

The equipment can jam signals between a drone and its controller, sending the drone back to its base. It can jam a drone’s GPS signal, forcing it to land. But neither of these will be part of the demonstration. The company said it would need government permission, and for demonstration purposes, such jamming can typically take place only on a military base.

Instead, attendees will see and hear how the equipment detects the drones and uses cameras to monitor and assess possible danger. The company will put up a virtual fence around the capitol, and its equipment should detect the drones when they violate the space. Attendees then will will see a simulation of the use of disrupters to bring the drones down.

“Commercially available drones are a lot of fun for a lot of people,” said Ross Lamm, Black Sage’s co-managing partner. “However, they are sometimes used for less-than-desirable purposes.”

Drones could be used to spy on military bases or other government installations, gather intelligence on new car designs being tested by a manufacturer, or used to grab video from an outdoor movie set. They could also be used to drop bombs onto a target, Lamm said.

Drones have come under increased scrutiny in recent years. Officials have complained about their presence at crime scenes, forest fires, national parks and stadium sporting events.

Last Wednesday, a helicopter crash-landed in Charleston, South Carolina, after a drone appeared directly in front of the student-piloted aircraft. The instructor took control of the aircraft, but the helicopter still crashed. Neither the instructor nor the student was injured.

On Feb. 9, a drone struck a tour helicopter flying over the scenic Na Pali coast on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. No one was injured.

Black Sage doesn’t manufacture the equipment used in its operations.

“We don’t make any one of those actual sensors,” he said. “We make the software and systems that integrate them.”

A Statesman story two years ago told how Black Sage had developed a system that could send a strong beam of light toward a drone that could prevent it from taking photographs or video.

Over the past year and a half, Lamm said his company has given demonstrations about once every other month. Gov. Butch Otter, Lt. Gov. Brad Little and members of the legislature attended Wednesday’s demonstration.

©2018 The Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.