Drone Detection and Neutralisation Technologies – Part II
Reading time : 7 min.
Since 2015, CERBAIR developed its own radiofrequency spectrum analysis algorithm. In the first part of the Drone Detection and Neutralisation blog post post, we showed the pros and cons of every type of detection technologies. Among its perks, cost effectiveness is perhaps the main factor that led us to this choice. It is the backbone of our competitiveness. Radiofrequency is also the only available technology that allows the user to detect both the drone and its pilot, a key advantage for law enforcement. Using the same data, the drone model can be identified as well. Furthermore, detection using this method is passive, emitting no interferences of any kind. By applying our sorting algorithms, we have managed to push the ranges up to 4 km in optimal conditions. But it is one thing to detect an incoming threat from afar. Whether the motive is espionage, collision or attack, a sensitive site needs to have its resources protected by a jamming device, capable of preventing the threat from penetrating its valuable airspace and assets. Is radiofrequency-based jamming a proper solution to get rid of malevolent drones ?
A/ The three decisive factors of a realistic CUAV offer.
Before we deep dive into “the art of neutralisation”, a dual detection-jamming solution should rely on three pillars:
The versatility of the offer
The reliance and accuracy, through a multi-technology solution
1. The Versatility of our Offer
Based on our RF spectrum analysis technology, we offer three different dual detection-jamming solutions with different formats. The latter deeply impacts the efficiency and availability of the protection.
Stationary solution: the CERBAIR Stationary solution is permanently installed on the sensitive site. The number of HYDRA™ RF sensors and their configuration depend mainly on the specifications of the site. It is always possible to upgrade the solution after installation without having to replace the entire system, letting the user a perfect control of budget and evolving security needs. Thus, we fulfil our scalability promises. A GUI* can also be implemented into the existing security systems. This solution is especially dedicated to provide a reliable coverage to permanent sensitive sites: official buildings, nuclear power plants, military bases, etc…
Mobile solution: the CERBAIR mobile solution is especially designed to detect drones and protect sensitive sites or events over short periods of time. Due to its reduced size, it can easily fit into a SUV, heli or airplane, making transport hassle-free. Only requiring 2 operators, installation is rapid and easy. This system is 100% autonomous and powered by an external generator or can be plugged into a general power supply.
Portable solution: our portable anti-drone solution, called CHIMERA, provides power and ease-of-use in a small and cost-efficient package. The combination of our detection and neutralisation technologies make this solution unique on the market. It is ideal for use by Law Enforcement officers in urban environments.
2. The Cost-Efficiency
The answer comes from the asymmetrical nature of this fight.
Ease of installation and use, close to no maintenance, non-prohibitive price, accessibility on the civilian market and on-line stores, availability of unrestricted off-the-shelf components, etc… These factors explain why civilian drones are affordable to any potential attackers.
On the other hand, classic AA* defence can find themselves unsuited for such type of threats. More expensive by factors of thousands, regulatory constraints that only make it available for military and law enforcement, complexity and time of installation and use, etc…
This asymmetrical nature justifies the need for cost-effectiveness, increased availability, and accessibility to non-specialized operators. Thanks to its historical design-to-cost strategy, CERBAIR has targeted this very market, offering the most cost-effective solution to its clients worldwide.
3. A Multi-Technology Solution
As shown in our Incident Drone Reports, the threat is, in essence, ever-changing (for instance C4 and handmade grenades tapped to drones in Mexico and Middle-East). CERBAIR is developing additional detection technologies conceived to be plugged to the radiofrequency core. Our project is to create a final solution which would be able to combine radiofrequency, radar, acoustic and optronic able to combine every advantage of each technologies into a single hardware base.
The process works as follows:
The RF sensors detect when the drone is powered up. The sensors are able to track the drone on a 360° basis.
Once the RF device have detected a drone, an integrated radar and an acoustic sensor further enhances the UAV tracking.
The optronic module then allows the user to confirm the model of the civilian drone indicated by the detection algorithm, further removing doubt from the equation.
B/ RF-based UAV neutralization: drawbacks VS perks
1. Neutralization technologies and its challenges
Jamming solutions rely on technologies unrestricted to civilian infrastructures.
An anti-drone offer should rely on non-kinetic means of defence, as it should be proper to use in urban areas.
Optimal cost-efficiency should be one of the main priorities. This could be achieved by using a common hardware base for both detection and jamming.
Finally, as civilian drones can potentially pose as a mobile and ever-changing threat, scalability and updatability are factors worth mentioning.
2. MEDUSA, CERBAIR’s answer to the growing civilian drone threat
Before we compare an RF-based UAV jamming solution to the aforementioned factors, we must first further elaborate its functioning.
MEDUSA™ is a compact neutralization solution, able to fit in the trunk of any SUV. It comes in addition to the HYDRA™ detection module, receiving live data from our RF spectrum analyzer.
Based on the information provided by our detection module HYDRA™, MEDUSA™ then takes control and sends pulses on the same RF band. Unable to receive orders from its operator, the drone finds itself isolated.
At this stage, three reactions can be initiated, according to the manufacturer’s or the operator’s settings:
RTH*: The Return Home function can be triggered. Unable to communicate with its pilot, the civilian UAV returns to a predetermined location set up in advance. Useful against ill-trained civilians, who only crossed boundaries by inadvertence or loss of control. The drone automatically comes back to the user.
The second jamming option will force the drone to hover at the same location until it runs out of battery.
By breaking the link between the UAV and its operator, the only possible option for the drone is to activate the soft landing procedure.
NB : user doesn’t have a hand over which reaction will be triggered. This factor strictly depends on the security protocols the drones use.
3/ Pros and cons
The drawbacks of an RF-based jamming solution:
Up to now, autonomous drones remain undetected due to the lack of ascending and descending signals.
Ambient RF pollution, which can be found in urban environment, is also an issue which our team of engineers are currently working on.
The perks of our solution:
The detection and jamming module work in tandem, further facilitating the security procedures on the client’s sites.
According to the sensitive location specifications, the end-user can choose the format and the number of required solutions, thanks to the scalability of our offer.
The RF database is regularly updated, upgrading the coverage.
Using this technological core, our client neutralize the drone. Operations meant to prevent drug smugglings are greatly facilitated. A situation well known by CBP agents (U.S. Customs and Border Protection), who face regular drug smuggling along the Mexican border.
CERBAIR aims to provide the most cost-effective solution on the market and appropriately respond to the asymmetrical nature of the threat. Our solutions are designed to be used for sensitive site protection, whether permanently or temporarily. Scalability and adaptability for safer skies.
RTH: For instance, in 2015, a civilian flew an unrestricted drone under alcohol influence over the White House garden, crashing onto a tree. Although his intents weren’t harmful, an C-UAV solution able to trigger an RTH function would have been useful in this situation.
* The purchase or usage of jamming technologies only applies to public order, national defense and security needs or public law enforcement in accordance with local regulations