Drone detection and tracking methods
The presence of rogue drones can be detected by several different methods. Specific RF transmissions on UAV-specific frequencies can be scanned for, and individual makes of drone can even be identified by their command protocols. RF scanning will not detect all drones, as aircraft that have been programmed to fly autonomously may not be sending or receiving RF transmissions from a pilot or base station.
Electro-optical (EO) and infrared (IR) sensors can be used to detect drones based on their visual and heat signatures, respectively. These sensors may need to be paired with machine vision and artificial intelligence algorithms that can reduce the risk of false positives and false negatives. EO/IR gimbals for anti-drone systems are available that combine multiple cameras into one payload and can be mounted on a fixed site or moving vehicle.
Acoustic detection systems compare the noise made by drone propulsion systems to a database of sounds. Their accuracy can be affected by other noise in the vicinity.
Radar detection can also be used to detect UAVs. Traditional military and aviation radar systems, which are designed to pick up large aircraft, may struggle to pick up smaller drones. Modern ESA (electronically scanned array) radars, in conjunction with algorithms that can tell small birds apart from drones and other lying objects, provide better results.
As each detection method has its advantages and drawbacks, multi-sensor anti-drone systems will combine different sensor types along with sensor fusion algorithms to provide a complete integrated solution.