Tel Aviv. The IDF thwarted another Hamas’ attempt to launch an explosive drone into Israeli territory from Gaza City. Shortly after the launch, the terrorists that operated it were killed. In recent days the Hamas has been trying to cause damage in Southern Israel using UAV’s and armed drones. All these attempts were not successful. Some of the armed UAV’s were shot down by the Iron Dome air defence systems.
Israel has identified the threat from armed UAV’s and drones and has activated a wide development effort to find operational solutions. While systems that can shoot down a UAV or drones are being developed and some already operational, Israeli scientists are also working to improve the accuracy of a unique systems that allows to locate the operator of a drone. The research is led by Dr Gera Weiss from the Ben Gurion University and is conducted by lead researcher Eliyahu Mashhadi.
According to Mashhadi, the effort now is to improve the 78 % accuracy achieved in simulations. Today different sensors are used for the detection of drones and their operators. The most common sensor types are: Radio Frequency (RF) Electro-Optical (EO), acoustic and radar.
“All the approaches that we are aware of for locating operators, not just the drones, use RF sensors”. He explained that here are automatic and semi-automatic methods for locating the operators based on the radio communication between the drone and its operator. “There are a number of problems with this approach. Firstly, such methods are usually tailored to a specific brand of drones. Furthermore, the radio signal can only be recorded near the drone. Finally, there are ways for malicious drone designers to apply cryptography and electronic warfare techniques to make localization by analysis of radio signals very difficult.”
Mashhadi explained that experiments show that the reactions of the operator due to environmental and physical conditions, give away enough information for obtaining substantial information about the location of the operator by analysing the path of the drone in the sky. “To allow for a controlled environment, we conducted all our experiments with a flight simulator that provides a realistic flight experience for the operator that includes sun gazes, obstructions, and other visual effects that produce the reactions of the operators that allow us to identify their location.”
He added that the research team specifically, used AirSim (Aerial Informatics and Robotics Simulation), which is an open-source, cross platform simulator for drones, ground vehicles such as cars and various other objects. “The neural network that we have designed was able to take advantage of these relations when we asked it to use only position or only rotation information.”
Israeli sources say that a system that will enable real time localization of a drone operator, is becoming critical because in most cases, the operator has more than one drone. “To neutralize the operator is an essential requirements” one of the sources said.
The growing need to kill hostile drones using a kinetic system, resulted recently in a cooperation agreement between Israel aerospace industries (IAI) and an Israeli start up.
-The writer is an International Roving Correspondent of the publication.