San Antonio's innovative energy incubator known as EPIcenter is taking on an Austin based start-up with an unusual mission, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
'Drones of Prey' is a tech company that CEO Michael Cohen says plans to come up with software to protect critical commercial infrastructure from overflying drones.
He says now, when a drone is seen flying over a site ranging from a sports stadium to an industrial facility to a dam or power plant, the property first has to determine that there is a drone up there, and what its intention is.
"Is it a hobbyist? Is it somebody with criminal intent who is trying to engage in something like industrial espionage, or is is somebody like a terrorist?" he asked.
He says the software will help facilities managers instantly identify the presence of a drone and determine its likely mission. Cohen says with drones readily available at electronics stores and on line for, in some cases, less than $100, drones are an increasing irritation for companies, critical infrastructure, and for organizers of outdoor events.
"Last year during a San Diego Padres game, a drone that was being flown by somebody who didn't know what he was doing, crashed into somebody in the stands."
He says on another case a drone dropped 'anti media leaflets' on a crowd at a baseball game. He says since drones can get that close to built up areas, a way is needed to stop them.
"We actually use the technology to enable our own 'capture drone' to fly up and grab other drones out of the sky," he said.
Cohen says flying drones over industrial facilities and public outdoor events is illegal, and the drones that are captured will be turned over to the police for possible criminal charges.
Cohen says Drones of Prey's association with EPIcenter will enable the firm to not only gain technical expertise, but also the contacts he will need in the commercial environment to find buyers for his technology.
EPIcenter, which was founded by CPS Energy, is kind of like 'Geekdom' for energy related start ups. It will provide an environment for the young companies to grow and technological expertise.
The idea behind EPIcenter is to grow more energy-related start ups in Texas, to make sure the state remains the world's energy capital in the coming new energy era just like Texas has been the leader in the age of oil and natural gas.