Counter-UAS for an Increasingly Complex Airspace

Counter-UAS for an Increasingly Complex Airspace

November 15, 2018, 2:15 PM - 3:00 PM

Theater 1 - USE


This presentation will discuss the growth, complexity and vulnerability of our airspace due to the rapid expansion of drones and UAV, as well as the two primary technologies and methodologies used to increase safety and security, quickly and cost effectively. As of 2017, drone enthusiasts have purchased over a million UAVs in the U.S. alone. This number is expected to triple by 2021. In the commercial space, drones are expected to increase tenfold from 42,000 commercial UAVs in the U.S. in 2017 to an anticipated 442,000 by 2021. Most of this growth is attributed to hobbyists and to commercial UAV expansion. Unfortunately, accompanying this growth is a surge in incidents of UAVs being used for malicious or unlawful purposes. Around the world and in the United States, there has seen a spike in reports of UAVs carrying contraband, drug-running into prisons, performing illegal surveillance activities, engaging in espionage, entering restricted areas, colliding with aircraft and more. Policy and legislation are required to provide a legal setting for safe, secure, reliable uses of UAVs. However, this hyper-growth will also require new technologies to protect and defend against unsafe and malicious UAV activities. TECHNOLOGY SOLUTION = WHY RADAR: Of the many solutions in development and currently on the market for counter-UAS protection, radar ranks number one as the best technology to help create detect-and-avoid solutions, offer BVLOS operations and to determine whether there are unwanted UAV in restricted locations. To track objects violating an airspace, a clear image of the location of target objects and obstacles must be determined in a variety of range and atmospheric conditions. Radar outperforms other solutions that fail in conditions such direct sun, fog, smoke, wind or at night. Whereas technologies like Optical and Lidar/Ladar operate well at high speeds or in wind and succeed at long distance detection, they are sub-optimal in bright sunlight, smog/fog or smoke. Infrared likewise fails in these conditions, and though it can function at night, it does not offer high resolution. Sonar operates in difficult atmospheric conditions, but fails at long distances and in high wind/at high speeds. Radar is high resolution, detects objects over longer distances, and works over a full range of atmospheric conditions. The FAA agrees, as radar has been prioritized as the organization’s technology of choice. With radar as the core technology in a Counter-UAS solution, more advanced systems can be layered on top to elevate precision and alerting—be that AI, machine learning, software, etc. Moreover, radar can now be reduced in size while still maintaining its power so that it can sit on a drone or be stationed in hard-to-reach locations to monitor airspace or area perimeters. METHODOLOGY = NETTING FOR REMEDIATION/REMOVAL A variety of methods exist for neutralizing a UAV operating in an unwanted location or posing a threat to humans and infrastructure. These include shooting down the UAV with a firearm, jamming RC controls to force a UAV down, burning the UAV out of the sky with a laser, or capturing the UAV with a net. Net capture is superior to other UAV neutralizing alternatives, which all have line-of-sight limitations or limited range or accuracy effectiveness, can cause secondary harm, or may destroy a targeted UAV when the desire was to keep it intact. Keeping a mitigated UAV intact may be important when maintenance of goodwill with those unknowingly violating a protected space is a consideration. In this talk, the presenter will further explore the pros and cons of various counter-UAS technologies and methods, examining issues that occur and challenges posed, including line-of-sight limitations, distance limitations, accuracy, cost, debris and fallout or collateral damage, FCC requirements, government approval requirements and public safety concerns.


  • Timothy Bean



    Fortem Technologies


  1. Track
    Unmanned Security

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