Countering drones

Countering drones

When drones are misused

Drones have become an integral part of our lives. They provide filmmakers with spectacular images and deliver urgently needed medicines to remote areas. But when misused, they can cause damage in the millions. This has driven up the demand for highly effective and reliable drone defense systems such as R&S®ARDRONIS.

"A terrifying moment at 1700 meters: a drone came dangerously close to a passenger plane approaching Munich Airport. The police reported that on Thursday evening the pilot of a plane carrying more than 110 passengers suddenly noticed a drone about ten meters away." Reports like these are increasing as rapidly as drone sales.

These popular unmanned aircraft cost a few hundred euros in online shops, hardware stores and toy stores, and in just a few years they have become a serious hazard worldwide. Even if a collision doesn't occur, a drone can critically disrupt air traffic. Last year, Gatwick Airport shut down for one and a half days shortly before Christmas due to a drone alarm – all of the some 1000 flights were canceled. At the beginning of May, everything came to a stop at Frankfurt Airport – again. In the past year, German air traffic controllers have registered 158 hindrances to scheduled air traffic at German airports due to drones, approximately 80 percent more than in the previous year. In the US airspace alone, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) receives more than 100 reports of drone incidents per month.

German air traffic controllers have registered 158 hindrances to scheduled air traffic at German airports due to drones.
German air traffic controllers have registered 158 hindrances to scheduled air traffic at German airports due to drones.

German Federal Police relies on R&S®ARDRONIS

There are strict limitations on the commercial use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS), but that doesn't stop amateur video makers, curious spectators, industrial spies and other electronic-savvy criminals. Mountain rescue helicopter flights have been canceled due to quadcopters zooming around in the vicinity. A drone filmed a car manufacturer's latest model during a secret show drive for a commercial. Rugged home-made aerial devices have delivered drugs and weapons inside prisons or even been used as remotely controlled weapons.

The growing hazards increase the demand for anti-drone systems such as R&S®ARDRONIS. Since its first deployment at the 2015 G7 summit in Elmau, Germany, the system has proven itself many times over during state visits and political summits. It has also been used to protect international air shows such as the ILA in Berlin.

Götz Mayser, Director C-UAS at Rohde & Schwarz

"The ISM bands are full of signals. The real challenge is finding the right one."

Götz Mayser, Director of C-UAV Detection and Counter Solutions at Rohde & Schwarz

Countering drones with surgical precision

Götz Mayser, Director of C-UAV Detection and Counter Solutions at Rohde & Schwarz, describes the most striking feature that sets R&S®ARDRONIS apart from other systems: other commercially available anti-drone systems may be able to block the radio link between the transmitter and the receiver to prevent the aerial vehicle from penetrating a no-fly zone, but to do so they have to disable all radio communications. "The ISM bands are full of signals," explains Mayser. "The real challenge is finding the right one." Rohde & Schwarz was able to master this challenge so quickly "because we have been analyzing signals for many decades."

The growing hazards increase the demand for anti-drone systems such as R&S®ARDRONIS.
The growing hazards increase the demand for anti-drone systems such as R&S®ARDRONIS.

The right package for every use case

The leanest of the four R&S®ARDRONIS packages reports when a remote control has been switched on and classifies the device type. The sensor system captures the uplink, so it can track down the drone pilot while their aerial device is still on the ground. This means at the next show drive, our car manufacturer could respond quickly and stop filming.

The second package also gets a direction fix on the drone. To precisely locate the drone and the pilot, two direction finding antennas are needed for a cross-bearing fix. Quickly tracking down the drone pilot can prevent long and costly downtimes like the one at Gatwick Airport.

The third level is the Disruption package. It blocks the control signal by emitting interference pulses precisely matched to the targeted drone, without impairing adjacent signals from other communication services. The control signal constantly hops to different frequencies within the allowed band to increase resistance to jamming, but R&S®ARDRONIS can easily follow these hops and respond accordingly.

The most complex version of R&S®ARDRONIS, the Protection package, integrates all of the above functions.

Effectively_countering_drones_with_ARDRONIS-preview.jpg
See how drone detection works with the help of Rohde & Schwarz.

Reliability counts

The expenditure is only worthwhile if all components function reliably, which means detection with a very high hit rate, prompt warning, precise location and very few false alarms. "We may not be the cheapest", says Mayser, "but we're the best." Why else would a government agency rely on R&S®ARDRONIS? For Mayser, one aspect of openness is not giving customers false expectations. He points out that R&S®ARDRONIS is effective with radio-controlled drones. GPS-controlled and autonomous drones require different systems. GUARDION is the right system for these drones. It extends the R&S®ARDRONIS options and includes additional components such as radar or acoustic sensors and supplementary effectors.

Drone pilots and tinkerers agree: the era of drones has just begun.
Drone pilots and tinkerers agree: the era of drones has just begun.

European Commission defines uniform rules for drone defense

The growing hazards put pressure on developers and politicians. The Federal Ministry of the Interior in Germany has now clarified the scope of responsibility: drone detection is the responsibility of air traffic control, while countermeasures are the responsibility of the Federal Police. The European Commission has defined uniform rules that address safety and manufacturer competitiveness. These rules are scheduled to go into force in 2020. Then all drone operators will have to be registered with national authorities. Operators will be able to fly drones weighing less than 25 kg without prior permission under a certain number of conditions. For instance, the many commercial drones must be registered and electronically identifiable, the drone must not fly higher than 120 meters and the operator must keep the drone within visual line of sight. You don't need a crystal ball to know that the tinkerers will regard the new rules as a sporting challenge.

Detect and defend remote-controlled drones with Rohde & Schwarz

Detect and defend remote-controlled drones with Rohde & Schwarz

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