Protecting people and sites from malicious drones
The upsurge in operations of unmanned aerial vehicles or drones has raised concerns about safety, security and privacy. EU-funded researchers are developing a system to detect and disable malicious drones.
Drones have quickly shifted from being mainly military systems to serving as common commercial tools. At the same time, questions have been raised about the possibility of their use for illicit purposes. For example, they could be used for terrorist attacks, armed with explosives, biological or chemical weapons, or they could be employed to spy on sensitive facilities.
The KNOX project, funded under the EUs H2020 SME Instrument, is aiming to develop and demonstrate an innovative, cost-effective and scalable drone alarm and protection system. The KNOX system monitors airspace and detects, identifies and locates non-military drones.
The system can be used by public authorities and other security service providers charged with protecting vulnerable areas, including critical infrastructure such as power plants, and mobile soft targets. Other users could include owners of infrastructure, both in the public and private sectors, and in urban contexts.
Another key application for the KNOX system would be the protection against drone-based threats at sites where large crowds of people gather, for example at sporting events or outdoor concerts.
Once a suspected malicious drone has been identified, the KNOX system can 'jam' the drone in a specific wireless frequency range. That is to say, it can disable the drone's communications system, without interfering with other mobile signals. The drone is then forced into a safe, controlled landing.
The KNOX drone alarm can serve as an early warning system because it can identify and locate suspected malicious drones before they take any aggressive action. It can also be used to locate the drone pilot before an attack takes place.
The KNOX project is carrying out demonstrations of its full drone alarm solution, including tactical operating procedures, in two prisons and in two sports stadiums in Denmark and the UK.
For all its potential to protect lives, infrastructure and property, the KNOX drone alarm is relatively inexpensive, making it a very attractive and game-changing system for a range of users.