Department 13 just got a new version of its drone-takedown system MESMER that has four times the range at a $US100,000 premium.

The MESMER 1.5 system, which can target and take control of drones in flight and force them to land, will cost $US400,000 ($504,000).

Five of them have already been sold and will be delivered this month and next.

Department 13 (ASX:D13) boss Jonathan Hunter said the company was currently showing off the new system to potential commercial and government clients on four continents.

“The enhancements to our MESMER solution have been tailored to meet an evolving drone threat and they significantly strengthen our counter-drone proposition,” he said.

Mr Hunter recently spoke to Stockhead to explain how MESMER worked, as well as his former life as a bomb-disposal expert in Afghanistan and Bosnia.

“It’s really interesting to watch people’s face when they see a drone land in the area that you want it to go into. It puts a smile on my face,” Mr Hunter said.

The unveiling of MESMER 1.5 comes as drones and other autonomous weapons are making headlines around the world thanks to Tesla boss Elon Musk.

Mr Musk is leading a group of more than 100 experts from around the world to call on the United Nations to ban autonomous weapons.

“Once developed, lethal autonomous weapons will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend. These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways,” the group wrote in a letter to the UN.

“We do not have long to act. Once this Pandora’s box is opened, it will be hard to close.”

The Australian signatories to the letter are:

  • Tiberio Caetano, founder and chief scientist at Ambiata
  • Mark Chatterton and Leo Gui, founders, MD and of Ingenious AI
  • Charles Gretton, founder of Hivery
  • Brad Lorge, founder and CEO of
  • Brenton O’Brien, founder and CEO of Microbric
  • Samir Sinha, founder & CEO of Robonomics AI
  • Ivan Storr, founder and CEO, Blue Ocean Robotics Australia
  • Peter Turner, founder and MD of Tribotix

Department 13’s shares were trading at 10c at 12pm Monday, down about 5 per cent after the announcement.