Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) is a sophisticated aircraft which can be maneuvered by almost anyone. They are better known as Drones. There's been a lot of buzz in recent months about the fast-developing anti-drone industry. It's all because there has been an understanding that UAVs can create major threats beyond the conflict areas.
Sometimes, camera-equipped UAVs surreptitiously invade people's privacy, and they can intercept data, too, says Gilad Beeri, a software engineer with experience in cyber security and radio communication. However, there are more deliberate misuses. One such example is, they have already been used to smuggle drugs across prison walls.
In 2015, the Secret Service reported at least two incidents where the drones flew into restricted airspace around the White House. While in Japan, an antinuclear activist was accused of using a drone to deliver a tiny amount of radioactive sand to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s office.
Earlier, when they were expensive, complicated and fragile, having one was a big deal. As UAVs get cheaper to buy and easier to use, they’re also going to get more and more annoying. Though people would be more careful while flying them, they can be used in about all the ways including best or objectionable, illegal or dangerous.
Due to being affordable, the UAVs can normally be misused for spying, bomb dropping or to smuggle goods. This has imposed a security concern all over the world. Adding further to the concern, the drone market is expected to be worth $12 billion by 2021.
The high volume of UAVs compels the expanding need for anti-drone solutions. The safety threats associated with the UAVs is creating an even wider need for expert anti-drone detection devices.
Here is an enumeration of five drone catching devices which can be widely considered:
A British engineering firm OpenWorks Engineering launched an extensively advanced UAV defender solution called as SkyWall. According to OpenWorks Engineering, the conceptual working of SkyWall is simple.
SkyWall is a shoulder mounted compressed air launcher. It is also highly mobile and cost effective against the UAV threats. Since the best way to capture a UAV is to physically intercept it; the operator of the SkyWall targets the UAVs and fires shells containing nets. The nets tangle the UAV, and the parachute safely brings the UAV back to the ground. The device is suitable to use at various events and buildings. This fire launcher weighs around 10 kgs and works with compressed gas to fire the UAV at a distance of about 100m.
Resembling a missile launcher, this device can be rapidly reloaded. OpenWorks Engineering claims that the reloading time is 8 seconds. A single operator can handle multiple drone treats at the same time by quickly reloading the SkyWall. Moreover, it is a man-portable and handheld launcher.
This device is equipped with an embedded intelligent system that locks the drone. Furthermore, the intelligent system has a programmable projectile to control the descent of the drone to the ground. The projectile systems help the operator in targeting and firing the drone. However, the performance of the launcher system relies on how accurately the operator can handle the device. Consequently, after the launch, the changing direction of the projectile impacts the efficacy. The launching device also minimizes any risk involved in capturing the drone and keeps the drone intact.
OpenWork has also announced SkyWall 200 which is a semi-permanent launcher which offers a wider range in comparison to SkyWall 100. SkyWall 300 is a device for a permanent installation. With built-in tracking and detection mechanism, the operator can control SkyWall 300 remotely.
Multiple drones defending devices SkyWall 100 were deployed for the security of the US President, during a visit to Berlin. This demonstration was able to test the real time competency of the SkyWall in the agile and in an urban environment. SkyWall 100 enforces a high level of security by capturing any unwanted drone in the surrounding area by raising the alarm.
SkyWall serves as one of the most efficient solutions to counteract any kinds of drones. It creates a physical barrier for the drones in the sky.
Watch SkyWall 100 in action here:
Using birds to disable drones are the latest series of attempts to tackle unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Recently, Netherlands has trained birds to counter drones. Dutch police have taken measures to deal with drones in an emergency condition. In fact, this step has been adopted as one of the anti-drone weapon systems. Particularly, Dutch police teamed with a raptor-training security firm based in the Hague.
Drones are pretty much the size of a bird so the bird considers the drone as its prey. After snatching the drone from the sky, the bird takes the drone to a safe place away from people.
Months of training of the birds includes recognizing and capturing the drone. Especially, the training enables them to carry the drone all the way back to their trainers. Post training, the expert trainers decide if the birds can effectively handle the drones.
The most noteworthy point to mention is while attacking the drones, birds will not have an injury by the rotors. The reason is that their method of attack is very precise and they can see the rotors clearly unlike humans.
Moreover, the birds can safely bring down the drones on the ground without posing any damage to anyone. While the birds are competent at attacking the drone similar to its size, however, larger drones can be a point of concern for the birds.
The security agencies trained eagles with the help of mechanical prey in safe areas away from the crowd. In alliance with the Dutch police, tests were carried out for months to make sure that eagles were a practical solution to drone interception.
Take a look at a video by Dutch National Police on training eagles to snatch drones:
From the video, it is also clear that the bird guard is using a pair of eagles -one immature and one adult. Moreover, you can observe that the eagle is easily plucking DJI phantom out of the sky. However, for larger drones, the safety still needs to be introspective. As a matter of fact, the video also mentions that there can be a future need for using some extra protection for the birds.
According to Dutch police, in the case of larger drones, the carbon fiber pops can cause damage to the birds.
Radio wave guns are anti-drone weapons. A US Sci-tech contractor, Battelle has indeed commenced a radical DroneDefender weapon that can detect and kill UAVs dead.
Better known as Battelle DroneDefenders, they counter drones using disruptive radio waves. Anti-drone guns are harmless to any devices that aren’t drones. The state-of-art design makes them disable the drones in a secure and supervised manner.
DroneDefenders are movable, precise and quick to use counter weapons that help providing critical security protection. This anti-drone defender works on radio control frequency disruption technology and is extremely easy to use. The gun targets the drone by a built-in sight and forces the drone to land up to 400 m away.
Radio wave guns can block the drone from flying and can also jam their GPS. In the most conventional sense, radio wave guns aren't weapons. However, its defense system still represents a step ahead in fighting unwanted drone activities. This DroneDefender is adept at providing protection against drones that can have a deadly impact like explosion carrying drones.
Battelle, the world’s largest nonprofit research and development organization, also claims that this may be a perfect look at the anti-drone technology.
"It can help us in many settings, from the White House lawn to bases and embassies overseas; from prisons and schools to historic sites," says Alex Morrow, who is a technical director of the project.
The weapon which looks like a modern assault rifle weighs around 15 pounds (approx. 6.8 kg). Another shocking feature of the DroneDefender is, it can operate for 5 hours without the need for recharging.
The weapon doesn’t actually destroy the drone but it makes the drone practically defenseless. The creators have chosen to dismantle the drone rather than destroy it. Hence, the DroneDefender suits best at airports or government sites without rendering any harm to the civilians.
Watch the shoulder-mounted rifle in action here:
Operating the gun is also very basic. The operator simply aims at the drone and pulls the trigger. This produces a radio signal surrounding the drone. This signal makes the drone out of reach for the operator and the drone will go into one of the safety protocols. The safety protocol makes the drone hover in the same position until the operator regains control.
The radio wave gun jams a radio frequency signal in the drone which takes away the control from the operator of the drone. Later, the Drone safely lands on the ground. This prevents the drone from flying even after disabling them.
This innovative system provides instantaneous disruption of unwanted drones using two different defenses such as remote control drone disruption and GPS disruption. When the radio frequency signal and the GPS disable, the latest protocol makes most of the drones move back to its origin.
Moreover, the DroneDefender has provided a stable response in federal government conducted field demonstrations.
Dedrone (Multi-Sensor Drone Tracker)
With the growing privacy concerns, either tracking or detecting the programmed drones help administering them. A drone detector is an electronic device that apprehends the presence of unwanted drones in your proximity. The detectors in integration with the security protocols can handle the security and privacy concerns against the flying drones.
In other words, drone detectors are simple devices which recognize any kind of electronic drone using real-time alerts and digital data collection. Since in the recent times the wide variety of industries and environments are prone to drones; detection systems help fight the drone threats.
The drone detectors can identify drones in the air, in water, and on the ground. Once the detector identifies the drone in a particular area, it can send a message, e-mail or voice alerts to the owner. Some detectors can also help in providing an early warning which increases the chance of efficiently handling the intrusion.
One of the widely used examples of a drone detection system is Dedrone. DroneTracker is the only modular drone detection on the market, which can adapt to the specific threat situation on-site.
The tracker can be mounted anywhere including prison, a nuclear plant, embassies, government and industrial facilities, and private buildings. Each DroneTracker comes with cameras, acoustic and radio frequency sensors. These detect the presence of a drone and also indicate what type of drone it is. While smaller places require just one or two DroneTrackers, stadiums and other large venues might require up to ten trackers.
Watch here to know more about the DroneTracker:
In addition to a complete airspace monitoring, the user can manage the information through a convenient browser interface. With 24/7 operation, DroneTracker allows users to readily configure multiple sensors, active and passive countermeasures.
Cloud-based database connection stands as the biggest technological advantage of using the multi-sensor detection system. It stores the collected real-time digital data in the management systems and seamlessly integrate with security systems.
The efficient software assures a continuous display of real-time airspace information. Moreover, Dedrone identifies drones by using advanced DroneDNA analysis and pattern recognition capabilities.
Depending on the application and threat situation the user can choose different counter-measures including jammer or Laser or block view.
With the latest software update DroneTracker 2.5, the tracker contains powerful RF detection to detect drones by their radio frequency (RF). This adds the advantages such as increased detection range and more reliable detection and identification of intruding drones.
AUDS (Anti-UAV Defence System)
For most people on the ground, there’s not a lot that we can do about an unwanted UAVs buzzing around overhead, especially if it’s out of shotgun range and you don’t have a military-grade laser handy. The solution to this is obvious and inevitable: intercept UAVs which seek out and bring them down.
Anti-Drone is a scalable system, which provides the maximum protection of areas and facilities of various sizes, forms, and functions. It comprises of different sets of equipment depending on the application. Be it private houses, or prisons, or commercial venues, or government buildings, or industrial installations, or airports, or border security, or critical infrastructure, or military facilities, anti-drone is a simple solution.
AUDS (Anti-UAV Defence System) is a counter drone system which disrupts and neutralizes UAV, UAS, remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS). Especially, the AUDS works best in identifying hostile airborne surveillance and potentially malicious activities.
In other words, AUDS is a smart-sensor and effector package which is capable of remotely detecting small UAVs. Later, it tracks and classifies them before providing the option to disrupt their activity. The AUDS system integrates electronic-scanning radar target detection, electro-optical (EO) tracking/classification and directional RF inhibition capability.
AUDS detect UAVs in all weather conditions, 24 hours a day, specifically flying in urban areas or near to the horizon.
Features including the Chess Dynamics Hawkeye Deployable System (DS) and EO Video Tracker, featuring both a long range color camera and a high sensitivity Thermal Imager (TI), makes AUDS highly effective. In addition, the state-of-the-art video tracking technology and radar target information, enable tracking and classifying the target.
Later, the operator takes a timely decision to use the Enterprise Control Systems' (ECS) smart RF inhibitor to selectively interfere with the C2 channels on the UAV. This allows the system to disrupt the UAV. The usage of directional antennas makes the smart RF inhibitor to achieve maximum range of operation with minimum collateral effect.
Watch here to know more about the fully integrated drone-counter system:
The AUDS system can detect UAVs at distances of up to 10km (approx. 6.2 miles). This happens by using electronic scanning radar. The infrared and daylight cameras and video tracking software track the UAV. Later, it blocks the drone-controlling radio signals with a non-kinetic inhibitor. According to the organization, this typically takes less than 15s.
According to the recent reports, the AUDS, developed by Blighter Surveillance Systems, Chess Dynamics, and Enterprise Control Systems – have achieved TRL-9 status. This is the highest attainable technology readiness level.
According to the US Department of Defense and NASA, TRL-9 signifies if a technology system or product is in its concluding form through successful mission operations.
At present, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is evaluating the AUDS for use at selected major US airports.
[Featured Image Source: Pixabay]
SEE ALSO: Categorizing the Top 13 Drones of 2016
Written by Alekhya Sai Punnamaraju