Tim Bean, CEO of Fortem Technologies, provides a detailed overview of the future of airspace, drones, and drone hunters. Mr. Bean has over two decades of business and technical experience as a leader in multiple technology start-ups in Silicon Valley. Bean oversees the strategy for Fortem Technologies, and handles everything from product creation, through sales, to customer support. Bean has a vast array of knowledge in sales and engineering, with specific expertise in cyber-defense and mission-critical infrastructure applications.
Bean’s company, Fortem Technologies, is known for specialization in AI-enabled airspace security and safety. Notably, the company is a leader in real-time intrusion detection. Fortem Technologies can provide military-tested solutions that have the capability to alert, identify, and classify drones, unmanned aircraft vehicles (commonly referred to as UAVs), or other intruding or unlawful invaders.
The airspace security expert discusses the many areas where Fortem Technologies’ advances can deliver effective results. He details how US airspace is the most crowded but the safest in the world primarily because of the tight regulations enforced by the FAA, as aircraft are in communication and cooperate with each other to ensure that safety is paramount. But as some aircraft, and helicopters, in particular, fly at a lower altitude, the airspace may become increasingly dangerous as drones become more ubiquitous each coming year. For these reasons, Bean states that airports are a prime area where their technology can provide for higher levels of safety. Additionally, Bean lays out the other areas in which Fortem Technologies is embedded, such as border security, oil and gas refineries, nuclear facilities, stadiums, and events, essentially any place where airspace needs to be secured.
Bean provides an overview of how their technology works to secure airspace. He explains the steps needed in the security process, from first identifying what is in the airspace to the integrated response for that situation. Utilizing RF listening (radio frequency) to catch RF signals between operator and drone allows for easy pick up of what Bean refers to as “careless” operators, who probably have wandered into secure airspace unknowingly. He points out that the true challenge in today’s security is to combat criminal or terrorist drones that fly autonomously and emit zero RF. From espionage to terrorism, these types of drones pose a serious threat to airspace security and potentially public safety. To meet the challenge, radar is often employed to detect unidentified and potentially dangerous or criminal intrusions into highly secure areas.
While jamming signals is an obvious way to deter nefarious drone type activity, this procedure is not legal in many countries due to regulatory laws. Bean’s company, however, provides a means to engage illegal drones, dogfight them, net them, and carry them away to a neutral space. Bean discusses the detailed laws that are emerging in regard to the protection of critical infrastructure from nefarious drone activity, and how the laws are changing as technology pushes further. Many issues come into play and a particularly important one is the regulation of flying ‘beyond a visual line of sight,’ which Bean discusses in detail. As he states, the FAA is in support of these regulation allowances, and as the terms get worked out we may soon be getting our hot, delicious pizzas delivered via drone.