Sandia National Laboratories researchers leading the MARCUS project are working to develop a system that addresses current and future national security threats posed by small unmanned aircraft systems
Robotics engineers from Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) are developing drones that can capture hostile drones in flight. Funded by the NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme, the Mobile Adaptive/Reactive Counter Unmanned System (MARCUS) project uses swarms of four unmanned quad-copters working in concert to intercept a drone and catch it in a net.
As drones become more numerous and more sophisticated, they also pose a growing threat. Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) are now a major component of the world’s major militaries but drones are also showing up in terrorist attacks, invasions of privacy, or acts of mischief at airports that could down an aircraft.
There have been a number of anti-drone systems developed over the years, including jammers, lasers, and even eagles trained to bring them down, but MARCUS aims to not only counter the threat of small UAVs but also to capture them for disposal or information gathering. According to SNL, this isn’t the first system to use nets but it is the first to combine nets with teams of drones controlled by a ground-based computer to coordinate the swarm’s course to ensure interception.