[HORSHAM] British defence company Chess Dynamics expects to sign the first customer for its drone-downing technology in the next six months, opening up a new market for its long-distance video and tracking devices.
Chess Dynamics is part of a consortium of three British companies which created the Anti-UAV Defence System (AUDS) last year in response to South Korea's need to control enemy drones entering its air space. "We expect to get an order in the next six months," business development manager Julian Moir said in an interview, following recent trials of the product in France, Britain and the United States.
As well as drone use rising on the battlefield, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are increasingly being employed commercially to film events and for agriculture, and by individuals for recreation as well as malicious purposes.
Their use is of growing concern to governments which want to be able to prevent accidents, attacks and espionage.
In Britain and Poland, there have been "near miss" incidents over the last 18 months when drones have flown close to passenger aeroplanes at airports. Earlier this year, drones caused alarm in France when several flights were spotted operating over sensitive sites in Paris.
AUDS can detect a drone from up to 8 kilometres away, track it and then disrupt its communications to force it to the ground, and Moir said the technology could be used in conflict situations and to protect airports and nuclear power stations.
The anti-drone product will help Horsham, southern England-based Chess Dynamics grow beyond its main naval customer base which accounts for about three quarters of current revenues of around 10 million pounds (S$21.5 million).
Its naval vision and tracking devices are used on ships belonging to the British, French, Thai and Omani fleets and the privately-held, venture capital-backed firm's customers include BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Thales .
Chess Dynamics is also looking to grow beyond its naval business by selling its Hawkeye surveillance product, which can fit into the back of a land cruiser and detect a single person from about 12 kilometres away. It is close to signing a contract to supply a North African country with equipment to protect its borders, said Moir.