Home > UAVs > Precision guided counter-UAV solutions, a thought piece

Precision guided counter-UAV solutions, a thought piece

Most counter-UAV techniques are illegal or very closely regulated outside of a war zone. The proliferation of consumer and commercial UAVs is prompting people to consider ways to disable them or take them down outside war zones. So far, we have seen shotguns, brooms and even kangaroos. How about some more precise options?

What follows is a thought exercise. Jamming, firing weapons indiscriminately, and even taking down a UAV with a net are all likely to be illegal wherever you might be reading this.

Jamming:

Most UAVs are controlled by a pilot using a radio transmitter or by a ground control system that instructs the UAV to fly to a particular set of waypoints. It is possible to jam the control signal, monitor the data channel, and even hijack the UAV. (A subject for another post.) This activity is certainly illegal.

A simple physical approach:

Acquiring and targeting a small UAV in motion with the Mark 1 human eyeball is tough. Attempting to shoot it down with a normal firearm is harder still. Doing so would violate several fundamentals of firearm safety:

  • Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction
  • Be sure of your target and what’s beyond it.

If you really want to physically take down a UAV using a projectile weapon, consider using a net gun or a paintball rifle. (More on that later.)

Automatic targeting:

Let us put aside “how to bring down the UAV” for a moment and address UAV detection. There are commercial solutions in this space and interested parties should explore those options for definitive, professional solutions. For the sake of this exercise, lets consider something like the Bluetooth Sniper Rifle.

Many consumer UAVs use 2.4GHz for command & control or data links. Such a “rifle” should detect a UAV using 2.4GHz at long range. Mount such a device on a tripod with a gimbal driven by a system that can point the detector in the direction of maximum signal strength. (Exercise left to the reader, as my professors used to say.) This provides a bearing and elevation from your location to the device you are targeting. You’ll have to spray the air space with rounds as you don’t have range information to provide a precise targeting solution but you could have the paintball gun fire in a pattern to place shots around the target. A few paintballs in the rotors should do the trick.

Now, tie two or more of these targeting systems together and you’ll have bearing, elevation, and range to the target. If you know the ballistics of your paintball rifle, you could probably place some pretty precise shots rather than spraying the air. It has been awhile since I used a paintball rifle but I recall that figuring out the trajectory of a paintball round was quite difficult.

[If anyone wants to try building this, please let me know and I’ll help.]

TrackingPoint – a precision solution:

TrackingPoint has a commercial solution for calculating targeting solutions for rifles, what they call “precision guided firearms”. Their solution uses a human to acquire and mark the target and then fire the round. Once the human marks a target, a computer tied into the rifle calculates the appropriate solution and guides the human to make the precise shot.

So the system takes targeting information in electronic form and uses it to provide a targeting solution. Can’t we take the targeting data from something similar to what we postulated above and use it to guide the human? I imagine so. (I asked TrackingPoint about this possibility and received no response.)

Keep the human on the trigger and use frangible, rubber, or other non-lethal rounds. You may have a long distance, precise, counter-UAV solution.

Advertisements
Categories: UAVs Tags: ,
  1. toysmith
    April 21, 2015 at 12:18 am

    Question: what are current laws governing when a UAV is “trespassing” on your property? Are there altitude thresholds? If I’m in my back yard hot tub and a UAV is hovering 4 ft off the ground with a camera, can I take it down? Destroy it altogether?

    • April 21, 2015 at 7:07 am

      This is a very good question. The FAA recently responded to a media request about a UAV “spying on someone” with the admission that this is a local law enforcement issue and that they have no jurisdiction. Most local governments do not have any laws that directly address this situation and have charged people with things like “reckless endangerment”.

      I think the best answer is that this is an evolving area of policy and case law and we will likely see many invasions of privacy by UAV and many cases of people taking matters into their own hands before policy and law catch up.

      The article with the FAA quote is here – http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Drone-Causing-headaches-in-Mansfield-300737221.html

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: