In the USA, more and more drones are in use, which is used in different areas to support private individuals and companies in a variety of tasks. These include filming sports, photographing weddings and checking the harvest at farmers. Drones also support the official sector, for example, when recognizing the situation after disasters or in the event of accidents and fires.
According to estimates, 800,000 and 1.5 million drones are currently in the USA. Their exact number is difficult to estimate since there is no central recording of the drones, and crashes and defects are also not recorded. Thus, the quantity sold domestically cannot be corrected for shrinkage.
Detection of a drone
One of the biggest hurdles in combating drones is their detection. If the drone is not detected, no countermeasures can be taken. However, detecting drones in the sky is difficult because they can be very small depending on their size and are difficult to detect due to their high speed.
In the professional field, there are several approaches to detecting drones. The latest technology from different areas is used to ensure the detection and tracking of the drone. Modern possibilities are the drone’s location via its radio signal or the detection and tracking of flying drones via acoustic sensors. They can also record the acoustics and store them in a database to make it easier to identify the drone later. Another option is to record the drone using a radar system. The drone’s small size poses an additional challenge here since an approaching drone can easily be mistaken for a bird. In addition, location is possible via infrared sensors or electro-optics.
However, optical detection methods can only be used to a limited extent in rain and fog and can only be used to a limited extent due to poor weather conditions. It makes sense to use infrared or radar systems to detect drones through fog and rain in these weather conditions. Compared to infrared, radar offers a significantly longer range for detecting approaching drones.
Dangers from drones
Drones can also become a variety of dangers due to their versatility and possible uses. There are hardly any limits to the possible uses of drones, even in criminal activities. Drones have already been used more frequently, for example, to unload drugs and weapons in the courtyards of prisons. The prisons prepare themselves for these dangers and intercept drones in good time. The military is also increasingly struggling with espionage operations using drones and is looking for ways to switch off drones quickly and effectively. In addition to transporting illegal goods and espionage, drones can also be used to commit much more serious crimes. If terrorists use drones, they can use them to drop explosives on crowds or spray toxic substances.
Drones pose another risk for celebrities and important people from politics and business. With very good and cheaply available camera drones, private pictures of people can be taken, and secrets can be spied on. The persons concerned can thus be blackmailed or
In addition to the threat to human life, drones threaten the security of buildings and facilities. By flying over the areas in a targeted manner, security measures can be spied on, and weak points identified. It would be conceivable, for example, for criminals to scout out their target with a drone before an attack and check for any security precautions that may be in place. The drone can also be used in the event of theft to switch off security technology or transport stolen goods away.
Another threat posed by drones that are often forgotten concerns critical IT infrastructure in companies and public institutions. The protection of the networks is guaranteed by various security measures and areas to which unauthorized persons have no access. However, drones can fly over these areas and thus overcome this barrier in seconds. An example. A company’s network is protected by firewalls and various security measures against attacks from outside, for example, from the Internet. An employee on the 34th-floor office uses his laptop as a hotspot to connect other devices. Since the office is on the 34thStock uses his laptop as a hotspot to connect other devices. Since the office is on the 34th floor, there is no danger from unauthorized persons, as the network only has a few meters range. However, a drone can climb up the facade unnoticed and, loaded with the appropriate technology, hack into the network since the hotspot protection is significantly lower. This gives the drone and its owner access to the company network.
The drone market is growing rapidly, and new models with more powerful motors and a larger range of functions are constantly being introduced. The market for defence measures against drones is growing just as quickly in the background because the security apparatuses also have to arm themselves against the new threats. The defence technology market is at the highest technological level and constantly presents innovations. In the fight against drones, three levels of escalation have been established.
First stage – detection
The drone must first be recognized as such. To do this, complex sensor systems must combine their measurement results to identify the drone as a drone using optical, infrared, radar and other sensors without being distracted by similarly large and fast birds. After detecting an object in the airspace as a drone, the second stage is initiated.
Second stage – identification
In this phase, it is recognized what type of drone it is. For this purpose, the size and, if possible, the model of the drone are identified. From this, it can be deduced what load capacity the drone has and, thus, what load it could transport. This allows an initial risk assessment to be carried out. At this point, it is unknown what danger the drone poses, as it is unknown what the drone is transporting. Since drones move at high speed, the first two steps must be clarified quickly to gain time to decide on countermeasures.
Third stage – countermeasure
In this phase, the danger potential of the drone is estimated by further measurements or optical detection of the drone. Factors for this are the payload, speed and recognizable attachments. A decision is then made on the use of countermeasures.
These fall into two categories: passive and active countermeasures. A passive countermeasure typically involves raising the alarm and following a routine when the alarm is raised.
Active countermeasures are more serious and are divided into different categories. One possibility is so-called jamming, in which the signal connection between the drone pilot and the drone is disrupted. Usually, this will force the drone to land. However, the drone’s programming can be changed, and it will then fly around uncontrollably. Another possibility is spoofing, in which the drone plays a false GPS signal and thus deviates from its course. Another category of active countermeasures is the hard interception of drones. They are taken out of the sky using lasers, water cannons, firearms, safety nets, kamikaze drones or strong sound. These measures often lead to the destruction of the drone and an uncontrollable crash. It should therefore be seen as the last option, as it is impossible to ensure that the drone will not crash into the crowd, especially in the vicinity of crowds.
Research is currently being carried out into other ways of rendering drones harmless and bringing them out of the sky more gently. The background is not the receipt of the drones for further use but the evaluation of the data stored by the drone. With the help of this data, conclusions can be drawn about the owner, the route flown and the attached equipment. This data is of great value for forensics, so the non-destructive recovery of drones is preferred.
The company Jammer Master is pursuing another approach with its drone jammer, which can take out drones from a great distance from the ground. In addition, experiments are currently being carried out with eagles, and they are being trained to intercept drones. However, it is still being determined whether the police will use these.
What can I do against drones?
Many citizens are annoyed by the neighbours’ drones and feel they are being watched in the garden or on the terrace. It also needs to be clarified what happens to the pictures that, for example, a neighbour takes with his drone of the other property and the people on it. This can significantly reduce the quality of life and lead to psychological problems. It is, therefore, obvious to think about shooting down the drone. However, private individuals are not permitted to do this, which also makes sense, given the background of an uncontrollable crash.
Only military and police units can shoot down drones with different means to prevent endangerment. Private individuals are only allowed to capture drones, preventing uncontrolled crashes. Jamming the drone signal with private individuals is also prohibited. If disturbed by the neighbour’s drone, you can call the police to clarify the matter accordingly.
There are currently no exceptions for security companies either, as only state authorities and institutions can take active action against drones. A relaxation of this regulation is currently being examined since it is very difficult to ensure the safety of thousands of football fans or concert visitors, especially at major events, if private security companies are not allowed to use countermeasures against drones.