Anti-drone start-ups take flight

A boom in consumer drone sales has spawned a counter-industry of start-ups aiming to stop drones flying where they shouldn't, by disabling them or knocking them out of the sky.


Dozens of start-up firms are developing techniques - from deploying birds of prey to firing gas through a bazooka - to take on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that are being used to smuggle drugs, drop bombs, spy on enemy lines or buzz public spaces.


The arms race is fed in part by the slow pace of government regulation for drones.


'There's a bit of a fear factor here,' says Kyle Landry, an analyst at Lux Research. 'The high volume of drones, plus regulations that can't quite keep pace, equals a need for personal counter-drone technology.'


The consumer drone market is expected to be worth $US5 billion ($A6.9 billion) by 2021, according to market researcher Tractica, with the average drone in the United States costing more than $US500 and packing a range of features from high-definition cameras to built-in GPS, predicts NPD Group, a consultancy.


Australian authorities relaxed drone regulations in September, allowing anyone to fly drones weighing up to 2kg without training, insurance, registration or certification.