back to article Brit firm unleashes drone-busting net cannon

As the world's skies darken with drones, a British firm reckons it's come up with the ultimate solution to the UAV flying menace: the mighty SkyWall100 handheld net-firing cannon. According to OpenWorks Engineering, SkyWall is "a combination of a compressed gas powered smart launcher and an intelligent programmable projectile …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fire control system integration

    Will it come with a powered turret and IoT so I can roof mount it and bring down drones from my phone? If not, it isn't sufficiently future proof.

    1. Jim 43

      Re: Fire control system integration

      You're going to need an IoT Architect for this and I hear they're recently become terribly expensive.

      1. chivo243 Silver badge

        Re: Fire control system integration

        "I hear they're recently become terribly expensive."

        I hear he's recently become terribly expensive. I think there is only one guy who does it... That's why IoT really sucks.

    2. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Fire control system integration

      But when we say 'drone' are we talking about Reapers, as the size of that thing would suggest it is intended to target, or are we talking about a palm-sized, iPhone-controlled drone that's hovering slightly over the wall of Number 10 Downing Street trying to catch pictures of Samantha Cameron in the bath?

  2. Blank-Reg
    Thumb Up

    [applause] Nice one OpenWorks. Awaiting turret mounting for Land Rover accessory for rapid deployment...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I call fake...

    The bit at back end of it looks like a plastic waterproof container painted black rather than a pressure vessel... Or maybe it's just a cheap way of protecting the electronics from the elements?

    1. JayB

      Re: I call fake...

      Looks like a pretty bog standard design of gas bottle to me.

      How long before some "genius" decides to deploy a conductive mesh net with a power source. Bet the Police would love that for dealing with disobedient souls!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I call fake...

        I work close to the company location. I'm very suspicious it's a fake too.

      2. GreenJimll

        Re: I call fake...

        I guess it depends if the disobedient souls get it first?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Crikey

    what kind of license do you need to operate one of those? surely it doesn't fall within the definition of an air rifle...?

    And what happens when some eejit decides to launch one of those things in the vicinity of a light aircraft??

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Crikey

      surely it doesn't fall within the definition of an air rifle...?

      Actually - it does. You do not need any frigging license to own it. Where can I buy the 300 version before they scramble to fix the licensing regime? It will look grand on top of my truck :)

      1. AMBxx Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Crikey

        You sure the power is low enough for it to qualify? In the UK at least, you can only have a certain pressure before you need a licence.

        I still think it would look cool mounted on my Defender though.

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

          Re: Crikey

          If you generate more than 12lbs per square inch at the muzzle you need a firearms license (I think)

          1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

            Re: Crikey

            Non licenced air weapon limited to under 12 ft lb muzzle energy in UK.

          2. Pedigree-Pete

            In or out of the UK.

            Is "airside" of any airport in the UK actually in the UK & therefore subject to UK gun law, air powered or otherwise?

          3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

            Re: Crikey

            If you generate more than 12lbs per square inch

            The muzzle on this is HUGE. There is no way in hell the puny compressed air tank attached to it can generate 12lbs per square inch (approx 1 bar) across an area with a diameter of a shoulder launched missile and more than a meter and a half in length So as far as the current regs go (and are literally interpreted) this is most likely an "airsoft"

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What happened to all the Eagles with frickin laser beams on their heads?

    i don't know, £100 solution to a £10 problem.

    1. Avatar of They
      Thumb Up

      Re: What happened to all the Eagles with frickin laser beams on their heads?

      £100 to take out a £10 drone that could assuming people are stupid cause a £100 million plane wreck. All we need is one nutter hitting a BA flight and suddenly £100 is a deal killer.

      Still I do prefer the Netherlands idea of eagles in airports on patrol.

      I like the idea of the cannon, perimeter mounted turrets with kill zones. Not so sure on the uniform. I can see a H&S yellow hi-vis jobs worth instead of spec ops or worse Ryan air sponsored simpletons thinking they are important.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: What happened to all the Eagles with frickin laser beams on their heads?

        The problem with the eagle idea is that several actual experts on bird of prey have come forward to say that it is a monumentally stupid idea and these birds are completely unsuited for this job as they become frustrated when they can't actually catch a drone every now and then. (And could go after anything else that moves.)

        1. Bob Wheeler
          Coat

          Re: What happened to all the Eagles with frickin laser beams on their heads?

          Wny not train the eagles to carry these.......

          Just saying :)

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: What happened to all the Eagles with frickin laser beams on their heads?

        "Not so sure on the uniform. I can see a H&S yellow hi-vis jobs worth instead of spec ops or worse Ryan air sponsored simpletons thinking they are important."

        I wonder if the cool yellow anti-flash protective glasses favoured by Health & Safety managed shooters are included or necessary?

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: What happened to all the Eagles with frickin laser beams on their heads?

        "£100 to take out a £10 drone"

        or in other words, how would it cope with more than one drone?

    2. VinceH Silver badge

      Re: What happened to all the Eagles with frickin laser beams on their heads?

      The sharks took out an injunction.

  6. Dan Wilkie

    It would most likely fall under a the definition of a prohibited firearm, under the same category as any weapon of whatever description designed or adapted for the discharge of any noxious liquid, gas or other thing.

    Or one of the many other prohibited categories.

    100m doesn't seem a particularly useful range though :\

    1. Jagged

      It may be out of date, but I think the firearms definition is pretty specific. I used to sell "boat bits" and most flare guns didn't require a firearms licence but we sold one which did, that had a percussion cap mechanism.

      Then there's the gas gun laws (paint ball etc) which is specifically mentioned in the firearms definition, that has a pounds per square inch definition, I believe. Which might be why this doesn't have such a great range.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        An air rifle max is 12 ft/Ib and this thing must be a lot more powerful than that to chuck that projectile for that distance. It's a chunky thing to start with, then the net comes out and becomes a low energy / high drag projectile so to get it to fly another 50 metres I would guess would need to quadruple the power. If the projectile is smart and delays opening until it is close to the target then it might go a bit further.

        1. Dan Wilkie

          I can't remember what happens to single action air weapons over the poundage limit. Straight prohibited I think.

          I know from the low tier (airsoft stuff) if it's over the power limit it becomes a high power air rifle (if it's single action) or a section 5 firearm if it's automatic.

          Re the ball launcher thing, that's different as I believe there are exceptions for certain types of projectile (and more than likely a power limit though I'm not certain on that one).

          The same applies to the flare gun, it doesn't have to be explosive powered to qualify as a firearm (see the previous Airsoft example). I think it's probably the fact it uses percussion caps (which would be ammunition) which require the license, which is why it's different to the others.

          IANAL...

          1. frank ly

            "... single action air weapons over the poundage limit."

            If I remember, they needed a firearms license and were only intended for people who killed 'vermin' in a professional capacity. The law may have changed since I Iast had an air rifle.

            The thing about the energy limit (13 ft.lb as I remember) was that it was formulated according to how much range/damage-potential it could give to an air gun pellet. This thing would/should have totally different considerations as to how much damage it could cause if misused.

            1. werdsmith Silver badge

              Illicit swapping out of legal springs for stiffer ones was quite the standard practice once.

              1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

                But if you lengthened it by as much as a valve spring from a Morris Minor the scrawny metal pin holding the back end in soon broke

            2. Simon_E

              12 foot-pounds for rifles, 6 for pistols, and apocryphally, that restriction was brought in to protect our existing airgun manufacturers from the effects of all those people wanting to import better and more powerful/efficient German-made ones, back in the early to mid eighteen hundreds.

              (He says, unable to actually confirm that through google at the time of writing...)

              1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

                How do they reconcile 12 ft-lbs when a good cricket bowler or baseball pitcher can break 90 ft-lbs without too much trouble and a tennis ball machine will go over 30 ft-lbs?

    2. rh587 Silver badge

      "It would most likely fall under a the definition of a prohibited firearm, under the same category as any weapon of whatever description designed or adapted for the discharge of any noxious liquid, gas or other thing."

      Eh, no more so than one of these.

      One presumes these will not be mail-order and the company will sell it along with training to genuine buyers, in which case the Police would be unlikely to take too great an interest.

  7. moiety

    Will the cannon turret do seagulls? Asking for a friend.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      A friend you say? (off-topic)

      That's what you say, a friend ...

      I hate the ghastly things but won't go as far as doing them up, even saved one which got snagged in brambles.

      Tried to peck me in lieu of payment.

      Anyway, about that computer controlled gun turret ...

    2. Darryl

      Meh, seagulls. Now if your friend was asking about magpies...

      1. Natalie Gritpants

        Meh, magpies

        My friend wants one for microlights.

  8. Antonymous Coward
    Terminator

    A ruse by another name...

    Copyright problems with "SkyNet"?

  9. rh587 Silver badge

    The parachute seems like it would just add to the risk of the entrapped drone floating with the wind - potentially across the runway and towards aircraft awaiting clearance to go (with their engines spinning). On a windy airfield, there seems to be a lot of scope for it to drift some way from it's actual snaring point.

    Surely better to dispense with the 'chute and let it fall out of the sky like a brick - presumably the owner isn't getting it back so it's final "landed" condition is not relevant?

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      It's generally frowned upon to design something that'll make something drop out of the sky like a brick, possible overhead of people. If this thing is used at an airfield traffic will have been shut down and/or diverted. If it's THAT close to a waiting aircraft there is a good chance it wouldn't be used in the first place as a miss would then lead to a net and projectile flying into said aircraft.

      Even with the chute the drone drops fairly rapidly so it shouldn't be much of an issue.

    2. Rol Silver badge

      Could be tethered to the gun and wound in?

      100metres of 20lb fishing line, what, a couple of grammes

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        100metres of 20lb fishing line, what, a couple of grammes

        And a hell of a drag to unwind it.

        1. Rol Silver badge

          I don't know? I can cast about 100m or so using nothing other than my right arm, I don't see how a powered projectile would find the same task any more difficult.

  10. Martin 47

    What's wrong with using a shotgun, especially as most airports already have a bloke driving around with one in his truck

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Perhaps a chance of misidentifying it and accidentally killing an endangered bird...

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "Perhaps a chance of misidentifying it and accidentally killing an endangered bird..."

        Considering that birds is why the bloke is there with the shotgun in the first place, there's a reasonable expectation that he is already aware of that situation.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Just because there's a reasonable expectation of such doesn't mean it won't occur anyway.

  11. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
    Joke

    Iron Ass?

    "entanglement with "ECM jamming".

    Can you mount it on a Cobra 3 to take down incoming hard-heads?

  12. Desk Jockey

    Range

    100m of range seems rather irrelevant to me. Who gives a crap about drones at 100m until they are practically over a runway? It is those 500-2000ft ones that really need to be shot down. Police marksman in a helicopter time? Or a really big drone capable of carrying this thing?

    I can see the police wanting to use this to bag a perp on the ground though...

    1. imanidiot Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: Range

      hunter/killer drones ofcourse

      --> Because we all know where this all leads -->

    2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: Range

      "I can see the police wanting to use this to bag a perp on the ground though..."

      Our oriental cousins already have something very similar for person entrapment purposes. I can't remember how I came to be watching videos of them on The Tube Of You, but they do exist and look remarkable effective in a slightly comedic way.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Range

        "Our oriental cousins already have something very similar for person entrapment purposes."

        I'm pretty sure that US para-military Police have, or at least tested, similar net throwers for people on the ground.

  13. ukgnome

    So it's basically a spud cannon.

    Time to get some downpipe and a can of hairspray and head down the park.

  14. Marc 25

    This will make the IT Teams "Friday Afternoon Nerf Off" a bit more fun.

    <get in the van>

  15. thegroucho
    Devil

    What happened to the good old way of aerial combat?

    A potential solution:

    - small-engine (internal combustion) reduced scale V(S)TOL-type aircraft (think V-22 Osprey);

    - cargo bay full of capsules containing something resembling the net of a minesweeper;

    - capsules from biodegradable cardboard/etc material (in case it gets sucked by jet engine);

    - flies fast to the target in aircraft mode, operator can be in touch with ATC to avoid causing the same type of problem as the offender;

    - slows down a bit for intercept, tilting the rotors a bit;

    - snags the target;

    - operators goes lower and to a place safe to drop the target and disengages the net for collection by ground personnel

    Rinse and repeat

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What happened to the good old way of aerial combat?

      Potential problem:

      If the drone is actively controlled, it may be able to see an attack craft coming and move to evade (or worse, counterattack). It's more difficult to see a ground-based gun targeting it from a controller's vantage point.

    2. Rol Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: What happened to the good old way of aerial combat?

      Argh!! You beat me to it. Well great minds and the like.

      Have a beer on me, just to show I'm not a sore loser.

  16. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    Best Nerf gun EVER!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can't wait...

    Looks like an excellent way to launch grenades and other explosive devices.

  18. Rol Silver badge

    It's not the drones fault

    Attacking the drone is the wrong way to go about it.

    The operator is transmitting an easily sourced signal, that could be targeted with conventional weaponry, such as Napalm.

    My preferred method is a tiger fitted with an Oculus headset, which would guide her by showing the target clubbing her cub to death.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: It's not the drones fault

      Unless it's acting on a program, meaning it's NOT actively controlled...

      And before you say, "Then it can be predicted," the program COULD be using random numbers or can react to sensors, meaning it's acting pseudo-smart and will therefore act like it's being directed when it's reacting on its own.

  19. Rol Silver badge

    Ok Here's the answer

    Combat drones!!!

    Well, not exactly combat, but rather interceptor drones, high speed remote controlled airplane hybrids.

    The interceptor would fly at high speed as a plane to the target and then release a net above the delinquent drone whilst simultaneously rotating its propellers to helicopter mode, whereby it can safely control the decent of both itself and the entangled drone to Earth.

    It could even operate under command, and let the on-board gubbins do the intercepting automatically.

    As it is only intended to be deployed for a matter of minutes, power considerations are minimal, and a quick swap out of batteries or refill of gas would see it operational again.

    Mmm, I'm thinking, pigeon pie could feed the world.

  20. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    This sounds pretty extreme.

    If it isn't already required, you're going to quickly find out that this needs to be licensed, when idjits start firing them into neighbor's yards, or using them to ensnare cats or birds.

    I guess it makes sense if you have a drone hovering near a runway, and you send a guy out onto the tarmac to bring the drone down.

    (How does it work against black helicopters?)

  21. Robin Bradshaw

    Range of 100m

    Lucky for them drones cant fly higher than 100m above the ground.

  22. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

    RB-211

    Rolls Royce had a probeml firing frozen chickens at their new turbofan and called in a turbofan expert to solve the problem. after spending millions and selling the car department to the Germans to help their cash flow and annoy Jeremy Clarckson, they came up with the idea of using metal fan blades in their stirrer.

    How the fscusck does an engine capable of engulfing 40 thousand pounds of ice filled cloud, birds included, need protection from a plastic toy by a shop assistant in ex army fatigues some thirty years later?

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: RB-211

      I thought the problem was that they were supposed to be using un-frozen chickens.... I'll get my coat...

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: RB-211

      How the fscusck does an engine capable of engulfing 40 thousand pounds of ice filled cloud, birds included,

      Because ice-filled cloud comes with its ice pre-chopped, or rather in hail stones that still need to grow to a point where one might think of them needing to be chopped on entering a turbine engine. And birds, while certainly capable of damaging an engine, rarely contain metallic bits that are even more capable of damaging an engine.

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