Police officers walking the perimeter of the Gangneung Ice Arena where figure skating and short-track speed skating will be held during the Pyeungchang winter Olympics Monday, Feb. 5, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP)
Drone ownership has caught on in South Korea like almost everywhere else, a fact that has not escaped the organizers of the Pyeongchang Winter games, which officially start on Friday.
Officials are concerned about the rogue flying machines disrupt the events during the two-week sporting extravaganza, and measures are in place to deal with such incidents.
Worst-case scenarios include a drone with a bomb in the direction of a bus full of athletes, a scenario recently approached by a SWAT team as part of a pre-Games drill. The team shot down the drone before it had a chance to reach the vehicle.
The sporting event is not known to be faced with a specific threat of terror groups, and in the North, the decision to take part in the Games, has reduced fears that South Korea’s unpredictable neighbour can interfere in a certain way. But as you would expect, trained staff — reportedly as many as the 60,000 — will do their utmost to ensure the safety of the athletes and spectators attending the Games.
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The airspace above and around the Games has been declared as a no-fly zone for unauthorized aircraft and special drone-detection radar developed by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology will be in place to keep the skies safe for the duration of the event.
Local news media are also reporting the use of signal-jamming guns like this that can intercept the communication between a pilot and their drone, and bring it safely back on the ground. In extreme cases, a helicopter may be deployed with a special forces agent going in close to shoot and destroy the drone in the air.
The so-called “drone-the catch of drones” can also be deployed during the olympics. These multi-rotor machines — more powerful than your ordinary consumer drone — carry nets which can be used to stifle and shut off a rogue drone. It is not clear how effective this measure is, if it’s going to be a very skilled drone pilot to go after the rogue drone in what could prove to be a long game of cat and mouse.
We first saw the net-carrying drones in Japan in 2015. A demonstration of Tokyo police left the drone with a just opened. When it closed on the target, the rogue drone’s propellers got tangled up in the net like a fly in a spider web, giving the police the drone to the trapped copter back to the ground in a controlled manner.
Other kit for the protection of the athletes and the spectators at the sports venues in the coming weeks with a low flying aircraft with facial recognition technology on board. It is claimed that its powerful cameras to monitor activities on the ground in the smallest details, with agents on the stages able to be rapidly deployed, should the cameras detect any suspicious activity.