Thermal cams on drones
‘THERMA’ drones are more commonly being used for home and perimeter security, increasing the need for high-tech reconnaissance and identification cameras – in this case, thermal imaging.
Therma cams are able to pick up heat sources from quite a distance and can be attached to a wide range of drones (such as the DJI Phantom 4) without much interference with the drone’s usual operations. This gives greater capacity to emergency forces that are ill-equipped or otherwise not able to provide expensive helicopters in order to use thermal-imaging from above.
In the following footage, the drones are utilising the FLIR VUE Pro cam, which allows thermal imaging for commercial drones.
Do you own one of these thermal cameras? We’d love to know how well it works with a wide range of drones, and some non-demonstrator footage. Drop us an email at [email protected]
Join the discussion:
UPDATE: DroneShield has been in touch with DroneSec regarding some of the questions posed by readers in both comments and emails in the article below. Please see the bottom of the article for responses.
DroneShield’s detection capabilities come in the form of uniquely configured acoustic receivers, recognising drone by the sound of their propellors. While this may alert security responders to the area, we are unsure of the capabilities if a swarm of drones was introduced, or a custom drone with sounds different to commercial drones.
A sample of the drone’s sound is then compared to a proprietary database of collated drone sounds. This is similar to how anti-virus detection works; seeing a signature and looking up similar matches in a database. It is unknown how DroneShield detection capabilities react to new or unknown sounds, how the database is updated, or if their are any heuristic or learning capabilities by the device.
The video shows a general target area on a geo-locational map with the reading:
ALERT: OMNI SENSOR 1
It is unknown whether the responder is given details of the type of drone detected, the range, location or number of drones. This information, if included, would sport quite the handy user interface for including within security operation centres or surveillance booths.
Introduced in this article, the DroneGun is a portable weapon with a range of up to several kilometres away. DroneShield suggests it targets 2.4ghz and 5ghz radio frequencies (RF) as well as a GPS jammer, which is only legal in some areas. The video suggests it is easy to use, lightweight and does not require extensive user training in order to operate the DroneGun. The manoeuvrability of the gun hasn’t yet been tested, however vision appears to show the gun requiring a backpack to operate.
Reports of the DroneGun capabilities have varied between ‘several kilometres away’ and up to 2 kilometres (1.4 miles). Considering the speed of the new DJI Inspire 2.0 at 107km/h (68m/ph), it would take almost 72 seconds to get out of range of the DroneGun. DroneShield has been reached out to in order to comment on the amount of time it would take for the DroneGun to successfully disrupt the RF of a drone from lock on to landing.
Rather than shooting a net or using eagles (video) as seen with other techniques, DroneShield claims to blast the offending drone with electromagnetic noise. This disrupts the communication between the pilot’s controller and the drone, forcing the drone to return home or land. It is unknown if the security responder can select which option, or if it depends on the type of drone being targeted, and it’s ‘Go Home’ capabilities.
Obviously a growing area for concern, companies like DroneShield are taking the opportunity to create new and advanced anti-drone technology to counter against surveillance and corporate espionage. The question is, will this technology face an unmet demand for skilled human operators, or will it satisfy low operating requirements, making it a viable choice for security guards or even individuals protecting various assets. It will be interesting to see if specialised anti-drone operator jobs start popping up to meet this new device-operating demand.
You can learn more about DroneShields products and watch other videos here. Keep an eye on anti-drone operator jobs for Australia or internationally, it may be worth looking at offensive/defensive drone training materials for the new frontier in the drone security space. Most Drone operator jobs consistently see salaries between the $60,000 and $100,000 mark.
A number of questions in the article were posed by our readers in regards to the operation of the DroneGun and the capabilities of DroneShield detection products. You may find the responses from DroneShield below.
DroneSec: What are the capabilities of DroneShield detection technology if a swarm of drones was introduced, or if a custom drone was identified with acoustic sounds different to commercial drones.
Swarm of drones – both DroneShield detection sensors and DroneGun can be equally effective on a swarm, as on a single drone.
Custom drones – Custom drones still typically use commercially available components (blades, engines, etc), and thus should generally be detected.
DroneSec: How is the drone-signature database updated, and are there any heuristic or learning capabilities utilised by the device?
The database is updated regularly with new signatures. This is done digitally either remotely (via a cloud), or via a manual update. No comments made on AI or learning capabilities at this time.
DroneSec: Is the DroneGun responder given details of the type and number of drones detected, the range, and location via the detection panel?
The responder can tell general details about the type of drone, but not the exact model. This is because a number of manufacturers copy the designs of top brands. DroneShield sensors identify sector areas where the drone appears, and multiple overlapping sensor installations can give higher precision on the location.
DroneSec: What is a rough idea of the time it would take for the DroneGun to successfully disrupt the RF of a drone from lock-on to landing? Does range has a factor in this.
The signal between the drone and the controller is cut effectively straight away. However, drones are often programmed to wait for up to 5-30 seconds before commencing a response mechanism, such as landing. The video to the drone pilot would cut straight away.
DroneSec: Could a security responder select options on the DroneGun to make the drone ‘go-home’ or alternatively, land immediately? Or does this depend on the type of drone being targeted. (e.g. DJI phantom 3 vs 4)
This depends on whether the RF or RF+GPS functions are deployed. Jamming RF generally triggers most drone models to return back to their starting point (thus helping to identify the pilot), while jamming RF and GPS triggers a controlled vertical landing.
Thank you to the DroneShield team for responding so promptly to the article and enlightening us with these comments! For any further queries on the above article, please email [email protected] or comment below.
We are aware many of the comments are discussed on Reddit. Hopefully DroneSec can coordinate a Reddit AMA with DroneShield for further insights into this technology.
A makeshift ‘drone factory’ has been found in Mosul by Iraqi special forces.
BBC correspondents report the Islamic State drone factory contained many parts of commercial and shop-bought drones. These drones were then modified to suit surveillance and remote-detonation needs.
Just last week two soldiers were killed when a light commercial drone packed with explosives crashed into their position. Lately however, surveillance has played a big part in the IS deployment of drone, aiding in spotting enemy positions and hidden snipers.
This juxtaposition of seeing drones being utilized for agriculture, film and deliveries suddenly becoming death from above is a stark reminder that bad people will use good technology for evil.
Dubai airport, the third busiest in the world, has already been forced to shut four times this year because of unauthorized drone activity, creating a headache for airlines and their passengers.
The most recent closure lasted for 90 minutes on Oct. 29, in which 22 flights had to be diverted to other airports. Each shutdown costs the airport approximately $1 million a minute.
Dubai’s Civil Aviation Authority has responded by testing a ‘drone hunter’. This remote-controlled aircraft has thermal and infrared imaging to detect drones that are in danger of entering into the airport’s space. How does it work? Once it locates a rogue drone, it follows it back to its launch point, then relays the location to police. No offensive weapons are necessary.
If the trial deployments prove successful, if could be in use routinely by the end of the year.
“It’s a few people that engage in this kind of activity. People want to explore how far their drone can go without realizing they are violating the airspace,” said Salim Al Mansouri, senior aerodrome inspector at the civil aviation authority.
“It’s a safety issue and people are losing money because of one person’s irresponsible behavior,” he said.
Other airports have taken different measures to tracking rogue drones — in the Netherlands, trained bald eagles are used to detect and dispose of unwanted drones. As more drones share the skies with planes, there are greater concerns.
In April, a suspected drone hit a plane as it was coming into Heathrow in London. The Airbus A320 landed safely.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration says reports of near misses with drones and airplanes have increased dramatically since 2014. In the five months ending January 31, there were 583 such incidents.
Since then, new rules regarding drone use has been introduced in hope of reducing the amount of incidents.
COULD THIS MAN be Australian of the year? According to everyone on social media he may very well be a hero. A recent social media video that went viral after a man, who only wants to be know as ‘Tim’, used his drone to fly to a local hardware store to pick up a sausage in bread.
Aussie of the year winner
Man flies drone to Bunnings to get Sausage Sizzle from his hot tubhttps://t.co/jJVdi3L4UZ
— Tom Atkinson (@Tommy_A7) November 8, 2016
Drone footage obtained by EFTM shows a man placing a note and cash in a plastic bag reading “Please buy snag and put in bag, here’s $10.” He then flies the drone to the local Bunnings Warehouse two kilometres away to collect his delicious snack.
Bunnings is a home and hardware chain that has routine fundraising barbecues out the front of its stores.
“Sausage sizzles” are basically fundraisers in Australia, offering the opportunity to eat a cheap BBQ lunch and donate money to a local charity at the same time.
Everyday Australians who understand the sanctity of the “Bunnings sausages sizzle” however, took to Twitter leaping to the defence of the accused, according to EFTM just because he was hungry.
my question to the premier is how deeply un-Australian is it to fine a man who used a drone to pick up a Bunnings sausage? #springst
— I make no apology (@anguslivingston) November 9, 2016
Tim said the video was just a bit of fun and admitted that multiple shots were cropped together to make it look like one continuous flight.
“[The] drone would [have] lost signal over that distance and would [have] been extremely difficult to control via a screen,” he said.
While it is legal to fly a drone recreationally, there is strict rules around flying in and around areas with lots of people. You know, because of the whole accidentally falling onto someone thing.
The video has since been deleted from YouTube, however CASA spokesperson Peter Gibson said the incident potentially breached a number of drone regulations and may lead to a $9000 fine.
“The takeout message is simple, the drone rules are there to protect people and property,” he said.
“This is a classic example of a place where you should never fly a drone.”
With Christmas approaching and drones sure to feature in plenty of stockings, Mr Gibson said any new owners should read up on exactly what they are allowed to do.
“We want to see people have fun with their drones but if you don’t respect the rules then you putting people at risk and there are penalties for doing that,” Mr Gibson said.
On Tuesday night, a drone loaded with up to 6 pounds of methamphetamine, crashed in a Mexican parking lot near the Californian border on Tuesday.
It was reported that the unmanned craft, carrying the prohibited substance, fell from the sky where it crashed in a parking lot of a supermarket in Tijuana around 10 p.m. Officials say it may have crashed because it was overloaded.
Tijuana police said an anonymous citizen reported finding the drone in the parking lot. The 6 pounds of methamphetamine had a street value of roughly $21,000 US dollars.
Recent reports show that drones are increasingly being used to traffic drugs over the Mexican/US border. Although the quantity that can be carried by a drone is significantly smaller, the risk of being caught is drastically reduced, according to officials.
Worldwide, this illegal practice has also been reported to smuggle drugs into prisons. Not only drugs but it has been reported that mobile phones and USB’s have also been smuggled into prisons by unmanned drones. British media repo
rted in February that there were more than 30 incidents last year in which drones were found in or around prisons.
Australia has also had its own problems with drones after a drone was detected over Goulburn jail in December last year.
A spokesman for the NSW Department of Corrective Services said an officer in a tower saw the drone 100 metres above the main part of the prison.
“The officer moved out of the tower along the catwalk towards the drone, which flew away from the prison until it was no longer visible. Officers searched the prison and nothing was found,” he said.
Corrective Services Minister David Elliott said the events did not come as a surprise.
“Technology is getting better, prisoners are getting access and the criminal element is getting access to that technology,” he said.
These incidents are hardly the first time and will surely not be the last. With drones being inexpensive and easily accessible, we will begin to see the creativity and potential of drones in carrying out illegal tasks but hopefully we will also see the good that it can bring about.
A SHARK-SPOTTING SURVEILLANCE DRONE will now be implemented and used to boost beach patrols in Western Australia’s South West.
The drones will be used for a three-month trial, set to start next month.
The $88,000 trial is part of the Government’s shark mitigation strategy, according to Fisheries Minister Joe Francis. It would allow Surf Life Saving WA to purchase and operate drones along the Perth Metropolitan coast and South West coast.
Since 2015, statistics show that a total of 48 shark attack cases have been record across Australia, according to the Taronga Australian Shark Attack Annual Report Summary. Out of those 48 reported cases 4 were fatal and 31 were injured.
The drone will be equipped with high definition cameras which will stream live vision back to surf lifesaving staff. This will eliminate the delay of a shark that has been spotted.
“Drone technology has advanced significantly in recent years and it makes sense to test if it can be used effectively to make our beaches safer,” Mr Francis said.
“It’s important any responsible government adopt evolving technologies to help keep people safe.”
“It will be flown in different areas over different events over the next three months and we will assess the successfulness of that.”
The drones would send images in real time which would be monitored. Beaches would then be alerted if sharks were present, according to Mr Francis.
SLSWA Lifesaving services manager Peter Scott said the drones would add another layer of shark protection strategies. This includes beach and helicopter patrols.
“We know there’s not one single thing that mitigates totally against sharks, it’s a broad range of strategies,” Mr Scott said.
The idrone is predicted to be used at surf carnivals and other community events at local beaches from November to January 2017.
“Future funding for the program would depend on the result of the trial,” said Mr Francis.
Shark-spotting drones are also being trialled in New South Wales.
IN THE EARLY HOURS of Wednesday morning, the age of robotic graffiti was born.
A well-known graffiti artist and vandal know as KATSU, used a hacked Phantom drone to tag a giant red scribble across Kendall Jenner’s face on one of New York City’s largest and most viewed billboards. It is the first time that a drone has been used for a major act of public vandalism.
Many of you may have heard of KATSU when he made headlines in April last year, for discovering how to attach a spray can to an off-the-shelf DJI Phantom drone. At the time, the drone was only used to paint canvasses for white-wall galleries.
KATSU assured the world that soon he would take his invention out into the streets and create enormous tags in places that were previously inaccessible to even the most daring taggers. Now, he appears to have proven his promise in grand fashion.
One of New York City’s largest billboard, the Calvin Klein billboard, sits at the busy intersection of Houston St and Lafayette St. Due to the difficulty of tagging the billboard, it has become one of NYC’s notorious targets for graffiti artists.
The gigantic, six story tall billboard was previously graced by a topless Justin Bieber. Since then it has been replaced by a large portrait photo of Kendall Jenner. “It is almost impossible to tag it using traditional methods,” said KATSU.
One could try to rappel off the top of the building or even use a cherry picker, however neither of these options are exactly safe or subtle, let alone provide enough time to carry out the tag. That along with the cops patrolling the area makes it an almost impossible task.
With the drone, by contrast, it took less than a minute. Still, the artist admitted, “It was a bit tense.”
As we see the drone industry flourish, multi-copters like the DJI Phantom will predictively become cheaper and more powerful, and we will more than likely see artists use the drones capabilities for subversive acts on the streets. KATSU’s scribble high above SoHo might not look like much, but it represents the potential that drones have to transform graffiti forever.
While DroneSec does not endorse the vandalism of public property via drones, it’s quite a feat and certainly will have councils thinking of ways to counter it.