Disabling drones with a Raspberry rifle

About a million of you emailed us over the weekend about this new implementation of the Raspberry Pi, in a rifle-shaped device which the US Army’s Cyber Institute appears to have made in order to shoot down domestic drones for…a bit of a lark.

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What you’re seeing here is a Pi and a dirty great Wi-Fi antenna, which the fella in camouflage is using to trigger a known exploit in a commercial Parrot quadrotor.

In an interview with Popular Mechanics, Captain Brent Chapman explains that the form factor is useful in showing non-technical senior officers what cyber-weaponry is useful for (he hasn’t just made it gun-shaped because gun-shaped things are what armies do). The shape of this setup makes it easy to demonstrate that this isn’t impenetrable, hard-to-understand technology: it’s something you recognise. A thing you point at something and shoot with.


In the video above, the cyber-rifle is being used to demonstrate how to remotely breach the security of a locked bunker. (This bunker is much cuter and less full of deadly stuff than the ones I imagine when I read the news.)

Captain Chapman says:

“It was something that we built in order to illustrate the power of enabling the soldiers at the tactical level to ‘make’ in support of a mission. It’s an idea we call tactical making, or expeditionary making.”

This really isn’t a use of Raspberry Pi that we envisioned when we were designing the thing. Nor were the cubesats, the Antarctic penguin monitoring systems or the Radio 4 time machine. We await the next surprise with interest.