Welcome to the 21st century – a time when the usage of drones is more than just ‘popular’. Nowadays, we can see drones in many different applications. They are way more advanced than the small amateur drones that we had years ago.
However, at the same time, drones pose a threat – mainly because of their uncontrolled nature and improper regulation – especially when flying over areas in which important public safety issues must be considered. Authorities are aware of this risk but still could not handle the scenario of suspending airport operations, mostly because it can cause problems related to delayed flights and missing connections.
(What We Can Learn From) The Dubai Airport Shutdown
One example for the problems caused by amateur drones (ADr) is the Dubai Airport shutdown. In September 2016, an Adr flying near the Dubai Airport caused a lot of problems – and forced the authorities to ground all the flights for half an hour, causing a chaos and delaying many flights.
After the airport was shut down for 30 minutes, there were thousands of dollars in losses – as well as an entire mess with the flights network, departure and arrival times. In order to control the situation, the authorities deployed a manned helicopter with 3 people as crew members – all in order to locate and eliminate the intruder drone (the ADr). However, the mission was without success and the airport started operating only when the drone disappeared.
In this context, it is more than clear that the need for a solution that can address the problem is vital. One possibility is the use of surveillance drone (SDr) systems to search the amateur drones (ADr) in a way that could solve the problem related to the inability of manned helicopters to follow the amateur drones.
The use of multiple SDr units is another possibility which could divide the work of hunting the Adr. Speaking of, they could be controlled by a single ground station and set up through a simple interface which could be deployed by a single operator.
Communication Technology For Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)
The communication technology for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) is an area that is currently developing fast. Primarily, this area combines several different technologies and right now focuses solely on small drones.
However, at the same time, the small drones provided a great opportunity to further develop this technology. That is how the Micro Air Vehicle Link (MAVLink) was first coined – as a communication protocol which is employed in most of the ground control stations and small drones’ connections nowadays.
Even though the MAVLink protocol is still not able to handle multiple connections, it is definitely a roadmap towards something bigger – and something that can coordinate the operation of multiple drones and their control by a single ground control station.
Most importantly, the introduction of the MAVLink protocol was reviewed by the DroidPlanner Control Station and the discussions about relevant related works began. A validation deployment along with all the results is now provided and now, the protocol is providing clear directions for future work.
The aim of this article is for people to understand that drone surveillance is a rising term in technology – and something that went on from a privilege to a common need. Aside from the example with the Dubai Airport shut down, the concept of surveillance drones (SDr) can save costs, ramp up the efficiency and certainly increase the control of all flying objects, supporting multiple drone systems through a single protocol.
Future works in this field are definitely expected – mostly ones centered around the usage of different technologies in the bottom network layers.
Reference: A Practical Deployment of a Communication Infrastructure to Support the Employment of Multiple Surveillance Drones Systems. Maik Basso, Iulisloi Zacarias, Carlos Eduardo Tussi Leite, Haijun Wang, Edison Pignaton de Freitas. DOI: 10.3390/drones2030026