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Transportation Technology

Airbus Rolls Out Anti-Drone System (networkworld.com) 168

coondoggie writes: The Airbus anti-drone system employs infrared cameras, radar technology and sensors to spot and track drones over six miles away, the company says. If the incoming drone is considered suspicious, the system can use electronic signals to jam the drone's communications and more: “Based on an extensive threat library and real-time analysis of control signals, a jammer interrupts the link between drone and pilot and/or its navigation. Furthermore, the direction finder tracks the position of the pilot who subsequently can be dealt with by law enforcement. Due to the Smart Responsive Jamming Technology developed by Airbus Defence and Space, the jamming signals are blocking only the relevant frequencies used to operate the drone while other frequencies in the vicinity remain operational. Since the jamming technology contains versatile receiving and transmitting capabilities, more sophisticated measures like remote control classification and GPS spoofing can be utilized as well. This allows effective and specific jamming and, therefore, a takeover of the UAV,” the company stated.
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Airbus Rolls Out Anti-Drone System

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  • by dunkindave ( 1801608 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2016 @06:12PM (#51252143)
    Seems like a perfect plan. What could possibly go wrong?
    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2016 @07:53PM (#51252787) Journal
      Against idiots and casual would-be malefactors who don't know what the hell they are doing, I assume that(while dubiously FCC approved in any case, and likely to interest Uncle Sam if it involves too much GPS-monkeying) jamming the drone's control link would work reasonably well.

      Against someone who is expecting to be jammed, I'd assume that the drone's default behavior would be 'fly toward the strongest RF source if you lose connection with manual control' and the jammer would be a nice handy beacon.to head right into as fast as possible.
      • by He Who Has No Name ( 768306 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2016 @08:17PM (#51252889)

        Or, you know, set up an internal navigation system that is either based on image recognition using preloaded images compared to a downwards-facing camera, or onboard inertial / laser ring gyros.

        Lose contact with the encrypted command and control source? Switch to internal nav or mission profile and continue with Plan B.

        The jamming paradigm is built on the assumption that drones have to be phoning home to something. A drone that isn't interested in talking to the outside world can only be jammed with projectiles or a really big butterfly net.

        • by DanielRavenNest ( 107550 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2016 @08:56PM (#51253049)

          You guys are overthinking the problem. If you want to shoot down an airliner, build an air cannon, set it up under the approach path to an airport, and lob explosives or ball bearings into the plane's path. The pumpkin throwing contests reached almost a mile with an 8 lb projectile, which is plenty of range. Smart ECM is of no use if you are throwing a dumb projectile.

          • by Hylandr ( 813770 )

            The Evil in this is that it makes pumpkin throwing contests so much more interesting.

            Kinda like Skeet shooting.

            " PULL !! "

          • Harder than you think - the IRA did essentially what you are suggesting, only with home made mortars fired from a vehicle parked in a hotel carpark at London Heathrow. They didn't bring down an aircraft, and hardly impacted the operation of the airport.

      • by WarJolt ( 990309 )

        It's worse than that.
        Some drones will land themselves, but drones currently don't have a requirement for backup plans if they lose links, so if you jam a harmless drone it may go out of control and kill someone.

        Additionally, there are other legitimate uses for the bands that drones use. The FCC wouldn't be happy about airplanes disrupting those services.

        Drones also can be controller by pretty much any radio signal including a cell phone signal. The FCC REALLY wouldn't be happy about jamming cell phones.

        Most

      • Exactly. No, this won't stop an attack by agents trained and funded by a foreign government or a high tech genius, but it isn't intended to. What it's meant to do is prevent someone off the street from throwing down some money, getting a drone, and flying it into a plane or restricted building, and the value of that is enormous.
        • I understand what you're saying, but then I wonder: is a drone really going to accomplish this any better than a "traditional" method? Whenever a new technology comes out that can be used nefariously, I have to remind myself that our entire civil society is based on an honor system. People don't commit crimes simply because most people are not inclined to do so, and because crimes are punished.

          This is really about people the fear someone could commit an old-fashioned crimes with fancy new technology. I don'

          • The people sending the drones into the wrong airspace aren't trying to commit crimes; they're having fun, and just don't care for some reason that it's illegal, and that there are good reasons for it to be illegal. It's something like firing lasers at aircraft, but it probably feels less hostile.

            This isn't about trying to stop an actual attack, because it won't. It's trying to keep the idiots from interfering with the airplane.

    • Hum... So, that's the reason for Airbus to have an order of 547 GAU-8 [wikipedia.org] units...
  • by Ravaldy ( 2621787 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2016 @06:14PM (#51252157)

    Protecting an area that should be drone free is a better answer than any rules, regulations or bans they can come up with. Whether this truly is as effective as they claim is a whole other matter.

    • Protecting an area that should be drone free...

      You do realize that an Airbus flying at 30,000' over your property is less than six miles away from you, don't you? Your property is suddenly in what you consider a drone-free zone -- even if you are the one flying it.

      Many years ago DOD used to dither the timing signals on GPS (called "selective availability") to downgrade the position quality. They finally realized that too many users of GPS were being negatively impacted by such nonsense and stopped doing it. Imagine the negative impact on other users wh

      • The GPS signals, GLONASS signals, Galileo signals or BeiDou signals?

      • You don't even need to read the article - just look at the picture - to know this is a ground-based system. There is no "that aircraft screwing with their GPS."
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by plover ( 150551 )

        Even The Fine Summary said they'd selectively jam the drone's communication, not the GPS signals. That means if they detect a 2.4GHz signal in the direction of the radar signature of the drone, they'll jam 2.4GHz. To avoid interfering with legitimate radio traffic I suspect their system discriminates, and only identifies transmissions in bands assigned to RC control or transmissions on the unlicensed bands. It probably wouldn't jam cell frequencies or other licensed bands.

        And that will be good enough to

        • Even The Fine Summary said they'd selectively jam the drone's communication, not the GPS signals.

          You should read at least the summary. It says, pretty clear:

          Since the jamming technology contains versatile receiving and transmitting capabilities, more sophisticated measures like remote control classification and GPS spoofing can be utilized as well.

          "GPS spoofing" means they have to broadcast signals that cover the legitimate signals from the GPS satellites. That means "jam", just with something that looks real. Now, GPS signals have gotten a lot easier to recieve as satellite technology improves, but t

      • by tsotha ( 720379 )

        They finally realized that too many users of GPS were being negatively impacted by such nonsense and stopped doing it.

        You mean they realized if they didn't stop everyone would switch over to Galileo or Glonass.

      • Many years ago DOD used to dither the timing signals on GPS (called "selective availability") to downgrade the position quality.

        And the people who really needed accurate positioning information did "differential GPS".

        Which basically consisted of a GPS receiver at a known surveyed point and a transmitter that sent corrections out in realtime based on the difference between where GPS said they were and where the survey said they were. Worked quite well close to the survey point (within a few dozen miles), n

    • Protecting an area that should be drone free is a better answer than any rules, regulations or bans they can come up with. Whether this truly is as effective as they claim is a whole other matter.

      You may be able to protect one end of the flight but not the other in which case you take whatever protection you can with you.

  • Not so long ago, playing a video game or using a cell phone could interfere with a commercial airliner's sensitive communication systems, endangering life and property, and therefore was banned for decades before slowly beginning to acknowledge that the threat wasn't very credible.

    But now, a suspicious object over 5 miles away is reason to start sending deliberate jamming signals, likely on the GPS frequencies as well as all common command and control bands? Yeah, nothing could go wrong there.

    • by dave420 ( 699308 )

      It was a case of the airlines/FCC not knowing whether the cell phones or video games would interfere, and so they erred on the side of caution and banned them until they were shown to not interfere. That's how is usually goes with such things - you not understanding that is not cause to launch into a rant on this subject, as you clearly need to do some more homework.

      • It was a case of the airlines/FCC not knowing whether the cell phones or video games would interfere

        Bullshit. Pilots were using tablets with their navigation software for years before the passengers were allowed to.

        Either they knew it would be fine and didn't want to mess with it, or they were negligent in allowing pilots to use those tablets. Has to be one or the other.

        • by dave420 ( 699308 )

          Or that pilots are in the best (only?) position to see that the instruments start screwing up when electronic devices are used and do something about it? Or that there might be a slight difference between two tablets in the cockpit and 300 tablets & phones distributed through the entire length of the plane?

          Nooo.... it must be some sort of weird, unexplainable conspiracy between Sony and the FAA or some shit.

          • Nooo.... it must be some sort of weird, unexplainable conspiracy between Sony and the FAA or some shit.

            Never said that. They just didn't give a shit about doing it, and then it became a whole sidebar debate about people on their cell phones during a flight which had nothing to do with the issue.

            Or that there might be a slight difference between two tablets in the cockpit and 300 tablets & phones distributed through the entire length of the plane?

            If EMI wasn't an issue 1 meter away from all of the avionics, it certainly wouldn't be an issue farther away. Learn about EM radiation and the inverse square law.

  • April fool's day? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Obfuscant ( 592200 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2016 @06:17PM (#51252181)
    Please tell me this is an April Fool's joke.

    Jamming the WiFi control signals to remove the UAS from the pilot's control? GPS spoofing to disrupt the GPS for every other GPS user within range?

    Deliberate and willful interference with regulated radio services should be, and is, a federal crime.

    • Which is exactly why this system is unlikely to be approved for use within the USA.

      Just the interdepartmental squabbling between the FAA and the FCC would kill the idea, but there are other reasons for this.

      Jamming the GPS signal, even in a targeted area, is going to be a show stopper anyplace where GPS is used as an approved IFR approach, which is going to include most major airports in the USA. There is ZERO chance the FAA is going to knowingly allow some aircraft to operate a GPS jammer/spoofer anywher

      • Which is exactly why this system is unlikely to be approved for use within the USA.

        The US government wants to buy things like this, so "approvde for use within the USA" is NOT going to be an issue:

        The Airbus system follows a recent Layer 8 post that detailed the US Federal Bureau of Prisons looking for such as system to protect federal prison guards and prisoners from incoming threatening drones.

        The group, which is an agency of the Department of Justice issued a Request for Information in November specifically targeting what it called a fully integrated system that will allow for the detection, tracking, interdiction, engagement and neutralization of small -- less the 55lb -- unmanned aerial system.

        • Ok, but flying it on a commercial aircraft such as the ones Airbus manufactures is absolutely NOT going to be allowed.

          The government can do all sorts of things that private individuals and commercial enterprises are not allowed to do. Jamming Cell phones, spoofing GPS signals, jamming other radio services are things that the government can do, but won't let you do.

          • Don't be silly. It wouldn't WORK on an aircraft. It needs multiple stationary base stations for pinpointing the transmitter. RTFA for more info. I doubt that the Federal Dept. of Corrections runs too many jails at 30,000 feet.
            • I doubt that the Federal Dept. of Corrections runs too many jails at 30,000 feet.

              LOL, well they run on at over 6,000 feet outside of Pueblo Colorado...

              Still, commercial and privet use of such a system is going to be verboten in the USA. They will not be legal for sale to anybody but the government.

              • You still don't get it. This will not interfere with airliner GPS systems. RTFA more carefully, please. Also, many airports are private.
    • by geoskd ( 321194 )

      Deliberate and willful interference with regulated radio services should be, and is, a federal crime.

      It is, essentially, a misdemeanor.

      Flying a drone in a restricted airspace is, however, a violation of various anti-terror laws, and will end with jail time for the operator. This is one of those cases where the laws actually got it right.

      Also, never minding what the laws say, Drones are god-damn dangerous when flown outside of a narrow envelope. The fact that these drone "pilots" are too stupid to know better makes them even more dangerous. It is just a matter of time before one of these idiot toy drones ta

      • by bugnuts ( 94678 )

        The prevailing attitude demonstrated by you is that UAS operators are inherently and collectively reckless. I see that promoted around like the terrorist muslim trope, and that attitude is stupid, unjustified, and ignorant. UAS pilots have been flying longer than manned aircraft pilots. Modelling clubs go back to the turn of the previous century. Like aircraft, there have been some close calls, but UAS operators are far more conscientious than drivers, even commercial drivers, at obeying common sense accept

    • Deliberate and willful interference with regulated radio services should be, and is, a federal crime.

      Laws only apply to little people.

  • a jammer interrupts the link between drone and pilot and/or its navigation

    For an autonomous drone that relies on GPS... what happens if Airbus jams the GPS naviation? Wouldn't the drone just hover in the same spot while trying to re-establish signal? Or maybe go into an emergency landing mode where it just lands wherever it is.

    Ok so the 2nd outcome would be what the jammer wants, but the 1st outcome isn't entirely desirable.

    • The FAA has approved GPS IFR approaches at most major airports, there is zero chance they will knowingly allow a GPS jammer/spoofer to operate anyplace near where an approved GPS based IFR approach has been approved. You might cause the drone to land, crash, or await the GPS signal to return, but you might cause the same to happen to an aircraft full of people flying an IFR approach. They may also loose their GPS signal and depending on the exact situation, they may land safely, have to do a missed approa

    • From my understanding GPS jamming is typically a matter of broadcasting a different set of signals at higher power. So the drone doesn't actually know that it lost its GPS signal. The Jammer then manipulates their signals to position the drone where they want it. I believe that is the method that Iran is suspected of having used to capture that CIA drone.

  • Seeing as how most drone radio frequency communication operate at 2.4 or 5.8 Ghz, the FCC would likely have a problem with allowing the jamming capabilities.
    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      the FCC would likely have a problem

      Airbus sells in a lot of markets not under FCC jurisdiction. And with more permissive laws covering jamming.

      • Great, it won't be approved in North America for airline transport, or private use. Like it or not, that happens to be a significant part of Airbus' market.

        Not to mention, that such a system will fail to be approved by both the FAA and the FCC, which is a significant issue as many of the certification boards in other countries have mutual agreements, which lets manufacturers seek certifications from their country's authority and don't then have to repeat the expensive certification process for every count

        • This is NOT being incorporated into airplanes.

          It's a ground-based system with a maximum range of 6 miles, highly directional antennas, and the Department of Justice wants them on behalf of the US Federal Bureau of Prisons. In other words, not more drones delivering contraband. And because it can track where the controller is, one more stupid crook before the courts.

          • That's not what the article says. The article was talking about airport security.

            The government can (and does) do things that us individual citizens would be hauled off to jail for. If they want to protect their open prison yards with such a system, fine, it's just stupid to advertise that they are doing it. Such a system is super easy to work around if you know about it in advance so it's best for the government to keep it hush hush.

  • The current restriction for drones is greater than 5000 ft. radius from an airport. Also, the ceiling for flight for non commercial drones is 400 ft. Does this mean that these planes will jam at distances greater than these?
    • The current restriction for drones is greater than 5000 ft. radius from an airport.

      Five nautical miles is a bit more than 30,000'. I don't know where you got 5000'.

      Does this mean that these planes will jam at distances greater than these?

      The summary mentions six miles, with is greater than all of "5000'", "30,000'", and "400'".

    • Does this mean that these planes will jam at distances greater than these?

      There are no planes involved in the system. It's ground-based, highly directional, and the US Dept. of Justice wants them for the US Federal Bureau of Prisons. So now if someone wants to smuggle a phone into jail, they'll have to hide it by pulling a goat-guy. The range is 6 miles.

    • That should be interesting. We could see a tech war between the smugglers and the prisons. They could fly in below the radar, popping up only long enough to clear a fence. They could use an inertial navigation system (try jamming that!). They could use odd frequencies not anticipated by the jamming system. Maybe we'll even see some mini-stealth.

      • Maybe we'll even see some mini-stealth.

        I bet it wouldn't be too hard to make one with all the plastics technology available nowadays. If only I had an easily accessible radar to test against.

  • by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2016 @06:23PM (#51252239) Journal

    A Boeing 787 bound for Paris from New York mysteriously landed instead at Reykjavik, Iceland today. Boeing pilots say that there was no indication of failure of onboard navigation systems. "It's a mystery" commented one Boeing engineer.

    When asked to comment, an Airbus representative opined "Tough luck for Boeing".

    • by delt0r ( 999393 )
      Even if it really does do GPS spoofing, it will only be for the civilian band. GPS in modern aircraft also use the military band. That turns out to be harder to jam and spoof.
  • Does it also work against Cessna's?

  • Makes you wonder why all planes don't have laser detection systems. You know where the plane is, you can see where the laser is coming from; won't take many flights to build up a pattern of where the fuckwits who shine them at planes live and send the police round to shoot them.

  • So the airplane is going to spoof GPS signals to a drone 6 miles away without causing any other problems?

  • Some day a 0.5Kg is going to fly within 10km of a heavy aircraft (that it would not even scratch) and it will be announced that the world will end.

    But buy a few kg of perchlorate, make a 10kg rocket, add a couple of kg of ammonium nittrate and you have a different story.

    The trick used to be how to control it so that it can find a target. But a Raspberry Pi with a small camera and some relatively simple software could easily identify an aeroplane against a blue sky. And shield it with a bit of aluminum foi

  • What the heck. I was just flying my drone I got for Christmas, and it mysteriously stopped working and landed on my neighbor's Mercedes and his daughter was in it. The neighbor's attorney is asking for my insurance company, but they said I need to contact Airbus. Heck.
  • Begun, the drone wars have.
  • In Europe an UAV may fly 5 km outside an airport and up to 150 meters. But six miles is almost 10 km. And how can they measure exactly, as the jam distance may depend on meteorological conditions. Sometimes it could be less, sometimes more.

    If Airbus jams the drone’s communications, the drone may fly unpredictably. It may accelerate and damage property on the ground or even hurt people.

    Basically Airbus takes control of the drone on itself, and with it comes the responsibility.

    There was not a s
  • Just wait til the said drones implement the same technology, or another airbus jams another airbus.. and boom no more GPS, radio with the tower, radio guidance, etc.

    Seems like fair game!

  • Serious no-no in the FCC's view. Good luck with that Airbus.
  • Gosh, jamming and spoofing GPS for a drone.

    Why, you could almost use that to bring down a highly secured military drone using well outdated DES technology it were (say) flying over Iran taking pictures.

    Great Job!

  • This may be useful for remotely-controlled drones, but it's useless against autonomous drones, such as those being developed by Amazon for delivery. It's only a matter of time before someone hooks up an Arduino (or whatever the kids are using these days) and sets a GPS target with a payload attached. It's difficult to think of a defense against that that isn't easily overcome by numbers and/or altitude. Maybe nets encapsulating high value targets...

    Nets: They're like fences, only entanglier.

  • The logical next step! :)

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