FAA Begins Testing Drone Detection System

One of the biggest concerns about drones is their usage around airports. Several recent close calls have left the government scrambling to continue to catch up to the quickly evolving capabilities and usages of the flying cameras. The FAA is now testing a new system for detecting unauthorized drones near airports.

The FAA started testing such technology in tandem with the FBI, drone manufacturers, and academic researchers on May 2 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. Using five varying types of rotorcraft and fixed wing drones, they conducted approximately 40 tests. While the results have not yet been released, it is indicative of the government's commitment not just to legislating drones, but to actively policing them.

Drones are a particularly thorny object to deal with, as traditional radar is not designed to detect them (else, it would also have to deal with thousands of other objects of a similar size, e.g. birds). Marke Gibson, the FAA Senior Advisor on UAS Integration, notes: “We face many difficult challenges as we integrate rapidly evolving UAS technology into our complex and highly regulated airspace.” The involvement of so many partners in the project is indicative of just what a complex problem this truly is.

What are your thoughts on the relationship between drones and aircraft? Let us know in the comments!

[via sUAS News]

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Spy Black's picture

"The biggest danger from drones comes from their ability to be used for terrorist acts, such as bringing airplanes down on takeoff and landing."

That doesn't make the act of an idiot accidentally taking a plane down any less relevant, and considering there's more idiots than terrorists, the stakes are statistically higher.

"...I don't get the point of getting the drone manufacturers involved in the research."
They're ones best qualified to give information concerning their products.

"The ability to detect is also useless unless authorities also have the ability to disable or destroy such aircraft when they pose a threat, similar to how an Air National Guard fighter jet can take down traditional aircraft that pose a threat."

That may very well come down to the use of particle beam weapons, capable of instant response. I'm not kidding.

"Advanced military technology, for example, should not be in the hands of civilian police forces, just as civilian police forces don't get to fly F-16s."

Too late for that frame of mind: http://tinyurl.com/phu2a24

Alex Cooke's picture

Just adding: the ability to detect is not useless. At the very least, authorities could safely reroute or ground traffic.

Spy Black's picture

" Since what I'm proposing would address both terrorist threats and the idiots, there's no point in focusing on the later."

I don't see you proposing anything in your comments, you're simply stating a situation.

"Information from the manufacturers is irrelevant when it comes to physically taking down a drone. Drones can also be modified by the user with the right knowledge."

Sure, but now you've whittled down the playing field if, for instance, you install non-defeatable transponders in drones, that have to be registered.

"As I said, military weapons should not be in the hands of civilian police forces."

And as I said, unfortunately it's too late for that frame of mind. We live in a fascist corporate imperialist dictatorship disguised as a democracy, but that's neither here nor there as far as this topic is concerned. We're talking about airport security here, and something will need to be done about it concerning this issue.

Ultimately, nothing is going to happen until that first plane goes down, and we all know it's a matter of when, not if. Until then it will be a lot of hot air being bandied about.

Spy Black's picture

" I obviously proposed that we need a way to take down drones, not just detect them."

Can't say it was obvious to me.

" For the reason I stated I think it's much more important, especially for airports, to be able to detect and take down a drone in a way that has zero to do with any hardware changes to drones. "Non-defeatable transponders" is not realistic."

I can't agree there. Transponders will make them visible, therefore detectable. This takes care of finding the average Joes (re: idiots) flying these things indiscriminately. I also believe additional technologies intelligent enough to spot drones that may not have transponders are also needed.

"It's not too late and it will never be too late for Americans to stand up to any fascist government and their minions."

I'd like to think that, but I'm not so sure the military industrial complex is about to hand over it's stranglehold on this country and the rest of the world.

"I believe the first planes that will go down will be an airliner due to a bomb strapped drones."

I'm not about to place bets, but you place quite a bit of faith in idiots. ;-)

Spy Black's picture

"We're the hijackers on 9/11 idiots? "

My comment about idiots meant that you have faith they won't take down a plane before a terrorist, not that terrorist are idiots.

"The problem is many people today are passive and will not say anything when their input, especially in numbers, would mean something."

Depends on who's controlling the votes:

Spy Black's picture

"The idiots you keep referring to are therefore irrelevant in that context."

Like I said, you place quite a bit of faith in idiots...

David Fuller's picture

Where the manufacturers can and have made a difference is to employ something called "geo-fencing" where the aircraft won't actually fly in areas bounded by GPS coordinates. These could be standard coordinates or from a database. That particularly helps against the "idiots" or ignorant group. Terrorists may find a way to defeat them.

Andrew Houser's picture

Sigh. It's necessary to keep asshats from being stupid, but at the same time it's already overly burdensome, with some regulations seeming to be more reactionary than well-thought out.

I live in a very rural spot, but still the B4UFly app tells me there are two overlapping airport spaces within 5 miles. Curious, I set out to drive and recon these supposed airfields. Neither had a tower, one airfield was literally a forest where no aircraft could possibly take off or land, and the other was a working farm where again takeoff and landing was questionable if not impossible. I called both numbers provided, but neither of them were connected to a phone, so now unless I'm within a known working airport, I don't even bother calling - just stay under 400' and don't be stupid.

I have had the police called on me because I was supposedly "terrorizing endangered piping plovers", until I got into the police car and showed them my flight data which revealed I was at 300' when flying anywhere near the nesting grounds.

Drone operators already have it hard enough. I know we all need to have some rules to get along with other operators and the general public, but they need to be structured in a manner that doesn't prohibit non-commercial operators from enjoying the creative perspective a drone can afford us.

David Fuller's picture

Those are there because if you're flying as a hobbyist, you are required to notify the "airport" if you're within five miles of it. I run into similar problems in my area (not rural at all) where I sit under about five overlapping five mile rings. I usually fly under Part 107, so I only need to worry about the one with a tower.

Spy Black's picture

I believe in installing non-defeatable transponders in drones. This makes them clearly identified in location and position. Furthermore, assuming drones are registered in order to be used, the transponder-located drone can also automatically the identify it's owner. This alone would make a lot of idiots flying these things think twice about where they're going to fly them.

Alex Cooke's picture

I couldn't agree more. That's exactly what I'd like to see as well. The best part is that ATC would have complete control what they see on their screens too.