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Drone Detection Systems and their uses in the UK

Last updated on

June 1, 2018


    As drones become an increasingly ubiquitous tool for a range of military purposes across the globe, drone detection and anti-drone systems are also on the rise. Syria, in particular, has seen a huge upsurge in drone usage for purposes such as intelligence gathering and the deployment of explosive devices, something which has driven the development of anti-drone systems.

    What are the features of anti-drone systems?

    The anti-drone systems market is now well-established thanks to the widespread popularity of drones. This demand means that a broad range of styles have been produced. The systems can vary widely in terms of functionality, capability and cost. Indeed, organisations hoping to secure a sophisticated and high-functioning system will likely need to pay tens of thousands of pounds to do so. With such a high price tag, therefore, many will need to compromise on functionality.

    Anti-drone systems feature technologies including microwave and radar detection, radio monitoring. They can also detect common control system frequencies, command and control link jamming, GPS spoofing, optical scanning of airspace, GPS jamming, the ability to take control of the drone and/or force landing, and the ability to initiate aircraft destruction. Naturally, systems at the higher end of the market will include more of these technologies. They can also carry out their tasks in a more sophisticated way than cheaper alternatives.


    What are the merits, limitations and issues surrounding anti-drone technologies in the UK?

    There are pros and cons to all anti-drone technologies. Organisations should consider carefully what they will be using their systems for before deciding on a particular model. UK-based organisations also need to consider the legal ramifications of certain technologies.

    Microwave and Radar Detection

    Systems featuring this technology tend to require multiple antennae to triangulate the drone’s position. They can be at the more expensive end of the market. In this way, they are best suited to airports or similar installations.

    Optical Scanning Technology

    Optical scanning uses high-resolution cameras or optical detection systems to spot drones. Their main downside is that they are not particularly effective in bad weather and can easily be overcome. In this way, optical scanning is best for threat detection analysis.

    Radio monitoring of common command and control system frequencies

    The use of radio monitoring systems is not particularly effective for combating the technology of today’s drones. This is because the flight plans of automated flights do not require a control link. Furthermore, 3G and 4G networks are hard to detect in more urban areas.

    Control link jamming, GPS jamming and GPS spoofing

    While these techniques can be very effective in certain situations, they tend not to mitigate against manual flights. They are likely to be illegal methods in the UK.

    Taking controls of drones or forcing landing

    Systems that can take control of drones with common control links and drone systems are fairly unusual. No individual system can cover all control frequencies. What’s more, according to the UK Air Navigation Order, such technology is likely to be illegal.

    Destroying Drones

    Physically attacking and destroying a drone can be carried out in a number of different ways such as explosives, lasers, or nets. However, such destruction is very likely to be against the law in the UK.

    Considering the risk and legitimacy of anti-drone systems

    Organisations outside of the UK military, police force or other established security agencies – who may be exempt from the legal issues mentioned above – will need to consider the risk and impact of their systems before purchasing.

    Indeed, there are a number of ambiguities surrounding the legality of current anti-drone and drone detection systems in the UK and many other parts of Europe. Taking control of a commercial drone, for example, would be covered by the same laws that stipulate against taking control of a manned airline illegally. It could come with some heavy penalties. Intercepting video links or revealing identifying features of a drone pilot, meanwhile, could breach the UK’s data protection act.

    Passive drone systems tend to be a go-to for organisations who need an affordable drone detection system. These systems can locate a pilot and flight path, find a drone’s serial number, and be used to tell the authorities about any potentially harmful activities. In this way, they are particularly useful for short-term worries such as anti-social drone pilots or drones that are harming wildlife.

    AeroScope – Drone Detection System

    One of the finest detection systems is DJI’s AeroScope. By intercepting the current communications link between a DJI drone and its remote controller. AeroScope is able to broadcast real-time identification information. This includes UAV serial code, make and model, UAV position, speed, latitude and ground controller location.

    This allows the operator to take mitigation action against the drone threat and at the same time dispatch law enforcement/security teams to apprehend the pilot.

    COPTRZ is are a certified supply, installation, service and training provider of DJI AeroScope. Contact us today to find out how AeroScope can help you significantly reduce the threat of illegal drone activity.

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