Can A Laser Pointer Take Down A Drone?

Lasers pointing from the Marina Bay Sands Singapore

Drones have been continuing to increase in popularity, and are likely to be commonly used for surveillance. By this we mean surveillance from law enforcement and from regular individuals illegally prying into people’s privacy.

Today we’re going to answer your question on whether a laser pointer can take down a drone.

No. Consumer grade laser pointers cannot physically take down a drone. They may cause damage to the UAVs camera and temporarily blind the drone’s operator. They could possibly force an auto landing by interfering with the downward sensors. The amount of lasers pointed at the drone and the power of the laser itself determine the potential damage done to the drone.

A consumer grade laser pointer is only tens of milliwatts (mW) and is therefore not capable of bringing down a drone single handed at least. It may be possible with a large amount of laser pointers focused on one point of the drone.

Taking down a drone with a consumer grade laser pointer would be very challenging to do. You would need a large amount of laser pointers and they would need to be pointing at the same spot on a drone for there to be any chance the drone goes down.

Before anyone tries this however, we would like to explain whether you are legally allowed to take down a drone with a laser pointer.

Is It Illegal To Take Down A Drone With A Laser Pointer

Yes, it is illegal to take down a drone with a laser pointer. The Federal Aviation Administration’s enforcement against lasers states that it is illegal to interfere with an aircraft using a laser pointer whether or not it has a pilot on-board the aircraft as it can distract or impair the pilot’s ability to fly.

Can a laser pointer take down a drone?

Although this does not specify unmanned aerial systems (UAS), it is worded in a way that does not exclude drones as drones are also considered aircraft.

Therefore, it is very much illegal to sabotage and/or destroy an aircraft and is considered a felony under this rule.

You can receive a fine and/or jail time in the United States if you’re caught doing this.

Related Article: Can You Fly Your Drone At Night in 2021?

Chilean Protestors Take Down A Drone With Laser Pointers

Back in 2019, a protest against a proposed increase in public transit fares turned into a “countrywide expression of anger over low wages and inequality” in Chile.

These protestors who were equipped with consumer grade laser pointers decided to shine them at a police drone monitoring the protest from above.

Here is a short video that caught the whole incident:

Many have come to various conclusions on what actually brought down the drone.

Was it the many laser pointers that blinded the drone’s operator causing it to lose control?

Was it an interference with the infrared landing sensors causing it to activate its auto landing feature?

Maybe it was the combination of all those laser pointers that managed to generate enough heat to burn through internal wiring or even cause its battery to die.

Let us know what you think the reason was!

If the drone’s operator was flying in first person view (FPV), then the laser pointer may have blinded the pilot causing a loss of control.

Due to the sheer amount of laser pointers being directed at the drone, it could have potentially interfered with the drone’s sensors.

This would be very unlikely in normal circumstances, but due to the amount of lasers, it could have engaged the drone’s auto landing feature, forcing it into a controlled landing.

As we’ve mentioned, a consumer grade laser pointer is only tens of mW strong. This would in no way be capable of generating enough heat to bring down a drone.

However, with the large number of lasers focusing on that single police UAS, some speculate that it generated enough heat to damage the drone causing it to crash.

Lasers pointing from buildings

Drones are beginning to become common place in law enforcement agencies all around the world.

March 2020 data from the Center for the Study of the Drone found that at least 1,578 state and local public safety agencies in the U.S. have drones, and 70 percent of these disclosed agencies are law enforcement.

Can a Police Drone Recognize Your Face? (msn.com)

Related Article: Can Drones Be Tracked? Detailed Guide To Drone Detection

Conclusion

With the widespread use of drones, there are sure to be many problems that arise. These problems may be privacy related or otherwise. If you feel your privacy is being intruded upon by a drone then you should not take matters into your own hands.

Instead you should gather as much evidence as you can with video and photo footage and try and determine where the operator may be located then contact authorities. Remember, if there’s a drone, there’s sure to be someone controlling it nearby!

Have you ever felt like you were being spied on by a drone?

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