Atlanta Falcons use drone detection system to monitor unauthorized drone activity near Mercedes-Benz Stadium
The Atlanta Falcons are among the NFL teams that use a drone detection system to monitor the activity of unauthorized drones flying near their stadium. Last season, the NFL reportedly counted 1,400 instances of drones flying over or around stadiums during times when those airspaces were subject to flight restrictions.
“With the deployment of our drone detection for Mercedes-Benz Stadium and around our campus, we are very aware of drone activity,” says Joe Coomer, vice president of security for AMB Sports + Entertainment. “This is a priority for the NFL and our safety officials. Over the past five years we have started to see drones becoming weapons in one way or another.
The Falcons share the retractable-roof Mercedes-Benz Stadium with MLS club Atlanta United, as both teams are owned by AMB Sports + Entertainment. Coomer says the organization works with two technology providers, drone software company Aerial Armor and Dedrone, whose radio frequency jamming device DroneDefender can be pointed to force aerial drones to land. Aerial Armor’s combined system includes RF detection, drone radar and optical thermal cameras.
“If there are temporary flight restrictions around the stadium for our events, our NFL games, our college football games, when this TRF is in effect, we can actually give some teeth to our flight partners. enforcement through our drone detection,” Coomer told SportTechie. “Not only does it identify the drone, but also the source of the driver. And we can make a real ban on the driver to bring down this drone.
Earlier this summer, the NFL, MLB, NCAA and NASCAR sent a joint letter to Congress backing a Biden administration proposal to expand drone flight regulations. Mercedes-Benz Stadium notably partnered with Lucid Drone Technologies in 2020 to use drones to aerially spray disinfectant on the stadium’s 71,000 seats as a cleaning measure against COVID-19.