TSU will teach drones to capture air intruders

The staff of the TSU Faculty of Innovative Technologies, working with an industrial partner, have developed a hardware and software system for hunting spy drones. A distinctive feature of the scientists’ invention is that the watchman drone operates autonomously, does not require manual control by the operator, and is capable of blocking the control channels of a spy drone.

- Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have recently become increasingly accessible. This led to an increase in cases of industrial espionage, and hooliganism using UAVs is also growing, - explains Stanislav Shidlovsky, dean of the TSU Faculty of Innovative Technologies. - The methods that are used to solve these problems are still technically imperfect: either neutralization of the spy by an attacking drone with manual control, or birds specially trained for hunting.

The Laboratory of High-Performance Reconfigurable Systems team and their colleagues managed to solve a difficult technical problem and create a universal solution to combat unauthorized UAV intrusion. As part of applied scientific research, a hardware-software complex was developed. It includes ground and air parts. Each of them is equipped with special sensors to obtain information about the environment and information processing facilities.

- The highlight, in this case, is that all the calculations are carried out onboard the aircraft, - says Stanislav Shidlovsky. - The technical difficulty was that onboard the drone it was necessary to place a lot of equipment (a capture device, calculators for processing large amounts of information, sensors, and batteries) despite the fact that its lifting power is small. For comparison, electronics of unmanned vehicles and other means of autonomous control occupy a whole trunk. In our case, the problem was solved due to a special algorithmic solution and the construction of the hybrid architecture of the computer.

The airborne part of the hunter- drone detects, identifies, and tracks the intruder through special channels (visual, thermal imaging, and others). Because of the individual parts of the UAV are heated quite strongly, they are easy to distinguish from birds. After determining the target, the interceptor can act on the intruder in various ways: block its control channels, if they are present, or shoot it with a special net and then transport it to the right place.

If the spy has large dimensions and weight, after being blocked in the air, it is lowered to the ground with a parachute. Then, the ground part, which is a robotic platform on a caterpillar track, drives up to the landing site and captures the intruder using the manipulator, followed by moving it to the desired point. Currently, developers are testing a new system.