Wed, Mar 20, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Better technology exists for drone detection: academic

By Wu Po-hsuan and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A drone is pictured in this undated photograph provided on Feb. 9 by the Civil Aeronautics Administration.

Photo: CNA / Civil Aeronautic Admiinistration

The government should use better technology to protect public installations from intrusion by civilian-owned uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAV), said Wu Ruey-beei (吳瑞北), a professor of electrical engineering at National Taiwan University.

The comments came after an incident at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) that closed down the airport on Friday for an hour after two drone intrusions were reported, delaying eight flights.

Reports that privately owned drones have disrupted air traffic at Songshan airport, Gatwick Airport in England and Newark Liberty International in New Jersey show the importance of preventing them from trespassing, Wu said.

However, government efforts to regulate drone ownership are unlikely to succeed, because small UAVs are inexpensive and easily assembled using off-the-shelf components, he added.

The drone detection methods employed by governments around the world include the naked eye, radio interference, radar stations and even falconry, but each has significant drawbacks, Wu said.

For example, weather conditions are a limiting factor for many strategies, while radar stations are prohibitively expensive, he said.

One idea with promise is a system that integrates passive radio-wave sensors and automatic identification augmented by artificial intelligence to pinpoint drones, he said.

After Academia Sinica funding for research and development into such a system fell through two years ago, he worked with Mao Shau-gang (毛紹綱), another professor in the department, to develop a prototype, which was patented last month, Wu said.

The system uses a passive “smart antenna” to detect and locate sources of radio waves, then employs the AI component to identify UAVs from other emission sources, he said.

The advantage of a passive detection system is that it has no negative effect on the health of people living near the site and does not require National Communications Commission licensing, he said.

The prototype needs additional funding from the government or private enterprises to become fully functional, he said.

The Civil Aeronautics Administration on Sunday said using radio wave interference systems to prevent UAVs from entering the restricted airspace around airports was not feasible.

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