There have been previous reports on inmates smuggling contraband items into prisons using drones, and in response, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has sent in a Request for Information for a system to prevent drones from serving as criminal middlemen.
A request for Information is basically the government way of stating that an agency or department wants to purchase something, and in this case, the Federal Bureau of Prisons is looking for a solution that will serve as protection from unmanned air vehicles, or commonly referred to as drones.
Specifically, the bureau is searching for a system that "allow for the detection, tracking, interdiction, engagement and neutralization of small (less the 55 LB total weight) unmanned aerial systems."
There is no indication in the Request for Information (RFI) on how the Federal Bureau of Prisons wants the system to work. All the bureau wants is that the system should be able to detect when a drone intrudes prison space, track the offending drone, classify it as a threat and then respond to the threat appropriately.
The system that the bureau is looking for should be able to detect drones at heights of up to 18,000 feet, which is far above the range of most of the consumer drones in the market.
There have been several kinds of anti-drone systems reported, with some utilizing malware targeted at the unmanned aerial vehicles, jamming the radio frequencies on which drones operate, and casting airborne nets to capture drones. It remains to be seen which one of these systems, or if a system not among these options, would be tapped by the bureau to protect prisons from unwanted drone visitors.
Of course, that is banking on the fact that the request by the Federal Bureau of Prisons will be approved by the government, and is dependent on how much of a budget will be given to the bureau for such an anti-drone system.