Star Wars producers want a shield to protect from drone spying

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Remember the flying drone that snapped a picture of the Millennium Falcon on a Star Wars VII set in England? The producers of the movie aren’t too impressed with the leak and have requested a ‘DroneShield’ to protect the set against such aerial surveillance. They’re still waiting though — the State Department has so far refused the manufacturer’s export application to send the equipment to the United Kingdom. The DroneShield, according to its makers, helps to give site managers advanced warnings about “helicopters and drones commonly used by paparazzi and media.” Alerts can be sent via SMS and email and connected up to a variety of security systems. Exactly how it works isn’t clear, but it doesn’t seem able to shoot drones from the sky with a targeted laser blast.

Over the last couple of weeks, people have been flying drones over Pinewood Studios, where Star Wars Episode VII is being filmed. That made waves last week, but, perhaps most interestingly, the studio ordered a “DroneShield” back in June anticipating the drone problem. The captured footage shows what looks to be a half-finished Millennium Falcon and two X-Wing fighters parked out near Britain’s Greenham Common. Footage like this was bound to pop up at some point, mostly because you can’t keep damn near anything secret these days, especially not a brand new Star Wars movie. Pinewood appeared to know that, too. Motherboard has exclusively gotten its hands on an order form that shows the company ordered one “DroneShield,” a product that can supposedly detect the presence of drones nearby. According to the company, a DroneShield can “provide advanced warning of helicopters and drones commonly used by paparazzi and media. Alerts are sent by email or SMS and can be linked to alarm and security response teams and data collected is preserved for subsequent legal proceedings.” To be completely honest, I have no idea how well the product works—I was supposed to test it out one day last year, but a last-minute scheduling conflict happened, so I haven’t seen it in action. Beyond that, flying a drone in many places isn’t illegal, so it’s unclear what the studio would do if it detected a drone.

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