Another drone crashes near White House. Can FAA keep up with drones?

After the second drone this year crashes near the White House, the FAA considers using drone-zapping new technology in order to supplement regulation and monitor the proliferating drones in protected airspace. 

William Luther/The San Antonio Express/AP
Midstream Integrity lead engineer Frank Hurtado uses a computer to check the systems on an octocopter drone Midstream Integrity is FAA-approved, but the FAA may start using anti-drone technology to monitor the proliferating drones in protected airspace.

Another drone has tried to visit the White House, and the government is now considering new anti-drone technology in an effort to contain the rise in civilian drone fliers. 

A man from Washington, D.C., flew a drone around the Washington Monument and crash-landed it near the White House on Friday. No one was hurt, but US Park Police confiscated the drone and cited the man, who will appear in court. The police said this is the ninth time this year that a drone – in this case an F182 6 Axis Quadcopter – has entered the Washington area, although everything within 15 miles of Reagan National Airport is supposed to be off-limits to drones, the Washington Post reported. 

Incidents like this is may partly explain why the Federal Aviation Authority has signaled an interest in anti-drone technology. The FAA announced an agreement Wednesday with a company that can make technology that will find and track drones not following FAA rules. The FAA will test whether the technology is safe and effective in tracking drones within a five-mile radius of the airport.

The project with CACI International, Inc., is the FAA's newest strategy to deal with drones, which have appeared in all sorts of places – from wildfires to prisons – that the FAA does not sanction, The Christian Science Monitor reported. 

Another anti-drone option being tested in the private sector is called an Anti-UAV Defense System, the BBC reported. It can freeze a drone in mid-air by overwhelming its wireless link to an operator by transmitting a powerful radio signal at it. The operator would either get the message and bring the drone down, or the new tool could hold the drone in place until its battery died if necessary, the company claims.

Asked by the BBC whether the UK would consider using such technology, the spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority wasn't interested. He said the regulations governing drones in British airspace have been in place for some time, and the main focus now was on making sure they are understood.

"We've had our rules in place for over six years now," he told the BBC. "The FAA are a little late to the party in many ways – they developed their regulations only recently."

The current FAA regulations are moving on an "incremental basis," the FAA told NBC News, after the agency missed its second deadline to create comprehensive regulations for drone use this month. 

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