A French soldier with an anti-drone rifle. Photo: Chesnot/Getty

Weapons that down threatening drones — by scrambling their electronics or just plain shooting them out of the sky — are flooding the market, even though most are still illegal in the U.S.

What's new: Just in the last year, hundreds of new products were released, in a scramble to head off an urgent unsolved menace. But off-the-shelf drones are evolving apace, threatening to make a thorny problem even worse.

The big picture: As I wrote this summer, plenty of roadblocks still lie ahead for the counter-drone industry. Fundamentally, many anti-drone systems don't work well — and even if they did, most are illegal in the U.S., except if used by federal agencies.

Driving the news: A new report from the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College is a comprehensive census of counter-drone technology.

  • Altogether, Bard researchers found 537 systems for sale — hundreds more than they found in last year's sweep.
  • More than 350 of these products are billed for intercepting and disabling drones; the rest simply detect them.
  • Radio jamming is the most popular method for taking down drones. But other creative approaches involve lasers, nets or even a "sacrificial collision drone."

The report raises two new problems. One is the limited range of many detection systems.

  • "The response time for successfully shooting down drones is incredibly short if the drone is even moderately fast," says the report's author, Arthur Holland Michel.
  • Even with a 1 km detection range — which may seem far — several steps remain after an incoming drone is detected: a second check, a decision to intercept, a scramble to ready the relevant weapon…
  • "By that time, the drone is right over your head," Michel says. "You don't hear this discussed in the marketing materials."

The second problem is the rapid progress of consumer drones, which is creating a "vicious feedback loop," Michel says. Advances that make the devices safer can also make them impervious to some counter-drone systems.

The bottom line: "There's nothing on the horizon that will cut the line on this [cycle]," says Michel. "There's nothing that just ends the game. … Until there is, it's going to be like this: a game of cat and mouse."

Go deeper

Republicans condemn Trump's refusal to commit to peaceful transfer of power

Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

A number of prominent Republican lawmakers have condemned President Trump's refusal on Wednesday to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses November's presidential election.

Driving the news: Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), the House's #3 Republican, tweeted, "The peaceful transfer of power is enshrined in our Constitution and fundamental to the survival of our Republic. America’s leaders swear an oath to the Constitution. We will uphold that oath."

26 mins ago - Technology

Pandemic spurs journalists to go it alone via email

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A slew of high-profile journalists have recently announced they are leaving newsrooms to launch their own, independent brands, mostly via email newsletters.

Context: Many of those writers, working with new technology companies like Substack, TinyLetter, Lede or Ghost, have made the transition amid the pandemic.

Updated 36 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 31,926,175 — Total deaths: 977,357 — Total recoveries: 22,004,598Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m ET: 6,935,556 — Total deaths: 201,920 — Total recoveries: 2,670,256 — Total tests: 97,459,742Map.
  3. Health: The coronavirus is surging again — Johnson & Johnson begins large phase 3 trial — The FDA plans to toughen standards.
  4. Politics: Missouri Gov. Mike Parson tests positive for coronavirus — Poll says 51% of Republicans trust Trump on coronavirus more than the CDC.
  5. Technology: The tech solutions of 2020 may be sapping our resolve to beat the coronavirus
  6. Sports: Here's what college basketball will look like this season.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!