Drones

AI system could locate pilots of intrusive drones

AI system could locate pilots ...
Drones can be particularly dangerous when flown around places such as airports
Drones can be particularly dangerous when flown around places such as airports
View 1 Image
Drones can be particularly dangerous when flown around places such as airports
1/1
Drones can be particularly dangerous when flown around places such as airports

When an unauthorized drone is being flown in a restricted airspace, the authorities understandably want to locate its operator. A new AI-based system may allow them to do so, succeeding where other technologies fail.

First of all, it is possible to determine the approximate location of a drone's pilot, using multiple widely-spaced sensors to triangulate the originating point of its radio control signal. Those sensors do already have to be in place, however, plus they may not be able to pick up the radio signal if it's obstructed by other wireless signals (such as those from Wi-Fi or Bluetooth) that are present in the area.

Seeking a better alternative, researchers from Israel's Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have developed a system in which cameras optically track the drone's flight path in three-dimensional space. That video is analyzed utilizing a deep neural network, which was "trained" on previously-recorded footage in which the location of the drone operator was known.

Since pilots typically keep their drones within line of sight (or if nothing else, within radio range), analysis of flight patterns such as the aircraft's changing vertical and horizontal location, along with its tendency to move along a path that arcs around a central point that's off to one side, can be used to ascertain where the pilot is.

As a result, in computer simulations utilized so far, the system was able to locate a drone's operator with 78-percent accuracy. That figure should rise as the technology is developed further, which will include testing it on actual drones in the real world.

A paper on the research, which is being led by computer science student Eliyahu Mashhadi, was recently presented at the online Fourth International Symposium on Cyber Security, Cryptography and Machine Learning.

Source: American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev via EurekAlert

5 comments
Jacques Bournival
Why bother? Most amateur (and even pros drones) from companies such as DJI operate on software that will prevent a pilot flying close to airports. Only custom made drones, with custom software can fly to these restricted areas. Granted, some FPV drones could fit that category, but their pattern of flight is far for being predictable and their flight time is very short. The danger of most amateur drone has been blown out of proportion and resulted, in many countries, in strict regulations supposed to protect the airports, the public and the privacy. In reality, those drones do not represent much danger, certainly less than people riding scooters or cars!
Worzel
I doubt it will take long before operators can program a flight route into the drone, and then collect it at the end of the flight route. The main danger to a passenger aircraft would be if the drone got sucked into an engine. This would destroy the drone, and cause minor damage to the engine. That may be costly to repair, but unlikely to endanger passengers, given the mass of the average drone, in my opinion.
Brian M
@Jacques Bournival
Absolutely right, the drone issue has been grossly hyped up by the media and politicians. If you can see the drone, then you can easily trace its home landing area optically or if its transmitting video (its a radio signal). This is not rocket science.
In the UK a major airport was closed for days on end due to claimed 'drone sightings', yet despite a heavy police and military presence to locate them the operators could not be found. A case of Occam's razor the simplest and most likely explanation is they were hoax or mistaken sightings. But it played into the hands of authorities that wanted to strictly control the use of them- Coincidence probably not!

guzmanchinky
You can fly your drone in restricted airspace? Mine always says "Cannot Take Off" if I'm near anywhere like that.
BlueOak
@Worzel said: “I doubt it will take long before operators can program a flight route into the drone, and then collect it at the end of the flight route”. Note: that functionality has already been commonly available on drones.