UK arms firm QinetiQ has been contracted to crash civilian drones into things so that the government can accurately quantify the danger the technology poses to flights and infrastructure.
The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will provide technical support for the tests, which will examine the damage a drone can cause when it comes into collision with an airframe.
“The testing of potential collision impacts between a drone and a fixed-wing aircraft is currently being carried out on behalf of the UK Ministry of Defence,” a CAA spokesperson told the Verge website on Tuesday.
“The findings of this research is expected to be published when completed.”
Neither of the government departments thought to be involved – the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Ministry of Transport – has commented on the plan. The location of the tests and the specific aims of the exercise have also not been announced.
In April, fears over drone collisions led to rumors of military-grade drone-killing ‘death rays’ that can destroy unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from up to 6 miles (9.6km) away being installed around UK airports.
The move followed a collision at Heathrow Airport which led to a drone ban over London during US President Barack Obama’s UK visit and forced authorities to consider more aggressive countermeasures.
The AUDS Anti-UAV Defence System would be high on any list of potential defenses, reports suggest. Made by a collection of UK arms firms working under the project name Blighter, the new weapon can detect, track and bring down a hostile UAV.