Experts are calling for higher awareness of the operations of drones in low-altitude airspace as the autonomous weapons become increasingly active, especially during conflicts.
On Monday, Saudi Arabia’s state-run news agency said 16 people of various nationalities had been wounded at an airport after the interception and destruction of a drone carrying explosives, which it said was launched by Yemen’s Iran-backed rebels.
Paul Scharre, director of studies at the Centre for a New American Security, who specialises in autonomous weapons, said conventional air-defence systems were not cost-effective in countering drones.
“Drones may fly under the radar of current air defences,” he said. “Some drones can even fly below rooftop level in urban areas. Each time a defender shoots down a thousand-dollar drone with a million-dollar missile, they’re losing in the long run.”
Scharre said developers were experimenting with counter-drone solutions, ranging from new technologies such as laser weapons to birds of prey patrolling areas and attacking small drones.
“Over time, the rapid proliferation of drones will be followed by the evolution of counter-drone defences optimised for different kinds of drone threats,” he said.
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