DRONES – USEFUL TOOL OR DANGER?

Introduction

It is quite interesting how human beings can create new problems by using technologies to create tools that will make our life easier.

Technological progress has been always been a driving force. We make things to make our life easier, safer, we develop tools that help in our daily life, production, business, but sooner or later we should protect ourselves from machines we are created. Starting from the computer mistakes and glitches and ending with tragedies caused by machines. We should not forget that there are human factor, which will always follow every human being or a process where he is involved.

New technologies

Technological progress has never been as fast as it is nowadays. As you know new technologies allowed us to make a next step in our life. We are using modern technologies to enhance our life, make it easier. Biggest grow appear in IT, telecommunication and media. Every month there is a new gadget, new product in the market. Production costs are going down, that makes product availability to everyone.

And here comes a danger, what if the criminals will use those technologies to make unlawful acts?

Hackers use the internet to break in the banking systems, steal the money, and damage the software.

So there is a real danger, that modern technologies could be used as a deadly weapon.

Drones – how it begun?

A few years from now, drones were something new in the market. They even have not been called drones. At the beginning radio controlled models appeared as peaceful hobby for those who wanted to fly. In 90’s only enthusiasts could design an RC plane to fly it. Radio Control was very expensive, so it was used only by experienced hobbyists. But in 2000 there was a small growth in the RC market. New materials and electronic systems allowed creating products for hobbyists around the world.   Still it was quite expensive and complicated. Most hobbyists designed their own models, and flown at the nearest field. Of course there were crashes due interferences or lack of flight experience.

But ten years later, technologies became so cheap, so everyone could design their own plane model and fly it.

Era of the drones

A new era of drones begun, when famous drone producer DJI founded in 2006 by Frank Wang begun to produce ready to fly drones.

In comparison with the simple Radio control plane or a glider model, the new configuration called quadrocopter allowed to take off in the urban area. And here comes a real danger. If a simple radio controlled plane needs a space to take of and land, the quadrocopter needed only a small take off place.

Developing new products DJI became most popular drone manufacturer. Their software allowed to any person to fly the quadrocopter. Simple control, touch and go function, became a trigger for a massive expand of this hobby. Now even a 8 y.o. kid could fly a drone. Looks nice right? But imagine, flying in urban area with a drone by inexperienced kid what could happen? Taking into account that multicopter often has open blades, flying in urban area or falling down it could cause trauma to other people or cause damage to the private property.

Drone it is a toy or a weapon?

Since 2006 there is a significant growth of the drone cases that are related with a drone damages. There are numerous drone crash accidents happened in the past 5 years. Most of them are become public because of media. Those accidents happened mostly because human curiosity, flight procedure noncompliance or technique fails. Using old radio control equipment nowadays there are major problems, because of the interference. This was the main reason why radio control models failed. New technologies brought new equipment that it is much safer, but still the number of accidents is growing. People’s curiosity and lack of experience is a main reason, why we have growing cases of drone fails. As mentioned before, before quadrocopters drone pilots have flown in the open fields, but using vertical take off with modern drones it became possible to fly in the urban area. And this is the main reason, why we have a growth of the drone accidents nowadays.

Drone pilot could fly in power lines causing loss of electricity for the whole area, or could damage the building or a vehicle. Falling drone with t/o weight of 5-10 kg could make a significant damage or cause a serious injury.

But there is a more serious problem coming in… Modern drones could lift up to 6 kg, and carry not only cameras, but also illegal cargo like narcotics or explosives. Numerous cases related with the drones which carried narcotics through the County border or prison. Terrorists could also use the drones to make unlawful acts. Drone could deliver up to 6 kg explosives anywhere, causing injuries or people death.

Also Drones might be used to capture video and images of secret or strategic objects. At the present moment almost none of strategic objects are protected from the drones. Thant means that this is a potential risks appear. 

How to protect from the drones?

In the past two years number of Companies started to develop a solution that will protect sites from the drones. Analyzing market and offered products we can make conclusion, which solutions divide in two categories- detection and neutralization.

Detection – firstly to find a potential threat we need to detect the drone. This could be performed with various solutions based on radar detection. Radar detects the drone using modern technologies, by analyzing the object. Main thing it is to detect the drone and filter false alerts, like birds or moving threes.

Detection methods could use both radar and acoustics to detect and identify the flying drone, displaying the flight speed, direction of the drone. Challenge is to detect the right object, because efficient radar should identify the drone not a bird. Second challenge is to neutralize the drone. This is more complicated task, because most of the drones uses 2,4 GHz frequency that used in telecommunications like WI-FI.

Also modern radio control devices uses hopping signal technology, which allows hopping to the other channel if the interference appears. Most producers offer jammers to jam the RF/GPS signal, but here comes other problems, using jammers it often illegal. That’s why For drone protection are needed special jammers, which operates only when drone appears. Selective jamming is the only way how to protect the area from the drones not affecting the GSM or WI-FI signals. Find the operator is another challenge, because it is hard to identify the drone signal and where it comes from. The main thing that all producers are facing with is the completed integrated system, that includes detection and neutralization.

We should keep in mind that system should be simple and effective. Using different products for detection and neutralization could be a solution, but it should be well integrated in the existing security system. But technologies are developing quite fast and soon in the market we could find the suitable solution for protection from the drones.

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Quadrocopter main benefit in comparison with classic radio controlled aircraft model is ability to take off from a small area less that 2 m2. This benefit launched the mass flying in urban areas, where is a potential risk in case of crash. Enthusiasts fly over cities, skyscrapers, bridges, to capture beautiful picture. But due to the high interference risk in the crowded cities, the crashes appear very often. Flying high near by the skyscraper inexperienced drone pilot faces with several problems, like strong wind from the skyscraper corners, interference from the radio antennas as well as limited view. Those factors could affect the flight and cause serious consequences.

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