Anti-drone Startup Partners with AT&T to Develop Defense Using IoT

Dedrone will combine custom sensors with LTE networks to bring drone security to consumers in real time, but critics wonder if they’re battling an overhyped threat.

Dedrone raised $10 million in venture capital in 2016 to develop its drone-sensing technology. (Image courtesy of Butler Tech.)

Dedrone raised $10 million in venture capital in 2016 to develop its drone-sensing technology. (Image courtesy of Butler Tech.)

San Francisco startup Dedrone and telecom giant AT&T announced they will be partnering to keep what they call “malicious” drones out of the air. Using Internet of Things (IoT) sensors manufactured by Dedrone and an LTE network provided by AT&T, the two companies are targeting military bases, private businesses, cities and venues with their anti-drone tech.

Two years ago, Dedrone appeared in the media after raising $10 million from Menlo Ventures to develop its product, which uses cameras, as well as acoustic and radio frequency sensors to detect drones. Today, the startup employs everything from machine learning to advanced video analytics to alert users when unwanted drones are flying within range of the detectors.

With the new partnership, Dedrone is hoping to take advantage of AT&T’s LTE network for faster and more effective drone alerts.

“We have IoT sensors that are somewhere in the field, even in very remote places, and what we need is stable connectivity so we can upgrade the systems,” said Joerg Lamprecht, Dedrone founder and CEO. “We get the alerts from malicious drones, and we can inform security officials about anything that’s coming. This needs to be in real time.”

The new partnership is a part of AT&T’s “Smart Cities” program. It is, however, unclear if municipal governments in the U.S. are actually in as much danger from drones as Dedrone wants people to think.

“Drones are no longer toys. They carry lots of payloads, and they fly long distances,” Lamprecht stated in a video announcing the partnership.

Despite this grim warning, publications such as have pointed out that the partnership may be trying to cash in on what is more of a perceived threat of drones than an actual security issue American cities and businesses face.

“The media attention and resulting fear of malicious drones outweighs the reality of the threat,” writes InternetofBusiness in its coverage of the new partnership. “[Currently,] consumer drones are saving far more lives than they are taking.”

That being said, there are a few key consumers that will benefit from the technology. For one, prisons come to mind. Some correctional facilities have been listed as previous customers of the startup. Other customers highlighted on the Dedrone website include a Volleyball Championship that used Dedrone to deter drones filming unlicensed live footage of the athletes. The royal family of Qatar is also listed as a previous customer.

So far, Dedrone has not specified any countermeasures that can be taken once a drone is spotted. The press release of the partnership alludes to alerting security upon detection, but physical measures against the intruding UAVs don’t seem to be a part of the package.

“The software-centric platform identifies approaching drones by means of radio frequency, visual, radar and other sensor data,” according to Dedrone. “Analysis of sensor data then reliably classifies approaching drones and finds their locations. It then triggers alarms to alert security staff.”

InternetOfBusiness again explained that “current laws effectively criminalize some counter-drone technologies.” Measures and licenses to remove intruding drones from their property will likely need to be worked out by consumers separate from the Dedrone product.