3-dimensional drone/UAS & operator detection, geolocation and alerts

Drones and UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) have many positive and legitimate uses but there are increasing concerns that drones are being used for illegal and dangerous activities: flying too close to passenger aircraft, smuggling drugs/weapons into prisons, privacy concerns and even weaponized drones. The list grows daily, as do the incidents.

RFeye DroneDefense is a passive RF sensing system that geolocates drone & operator emissions in 3 dimensions: latitude, longitude and altitude. The system can track multiple drones simultaneously and alert operational/security staff to the confirmed presence of a drone and its location, all in real time.

CRFS drone detector trial

How RF spectrum monitoring can help

Drones are usually operated via a radio control signal and often have on-board datalink transmitters for real-time sensor download (typically in the 2.4 GHz ISM band but occasionally also in the 5GHz ISM band). These can be detected and geolocated with a network of RFeye Nodes well before the drone enters a protected area such as an airport, prison or government facility. These RFeye Nodes cover a very wide section of the RF spectrum, and scan from 9 kHz up to 18 GHz, sweeping many times per second. This wide bandwidth also allows you to detect threats equipped with custom transceivers, which operate outside of standard frequencies. In addition, the system can not only detect the drone’s location, but also the source of the control signal – the drone operator.

How does it work?

RFeye DroneDefense is based around a network of RFeye Nodes, which are set up around the protected site or facility. These intelligent Nodes passively detect and identify the presence of drone-related RF transmissions, even if the signals are low power or the RF environment is complex. Employing a geolocation technique called 3D TDOA, RFeye DroneDefense can locate transmissions in 3 dimensions, giving longitude, latitude and altitude, and display the drone’s current location and previous flight track. If a drone is detected, the system can trigger an alert for the security team to investigate or provide data to cue other deployed platforms, e.g. radar/electro-optics (EO).  Furthermore, it can identify operational frequencies to help cue third-party jammers.

Geolocating drones

No library needed: Wideband, live threat discovery

RFeye DroneDefense is different from other RF detection systems. It is not reliant on a pre-existing threat library of RF signals. Instead, it looks at all RF emissions across a very wide band of the RF spectrum. By auditing and understanding its environment, the system can differentiate between RF transmissions that could originate from a drone, and other signals that can be ignored . This means if an adversary is using a modified drone and transmitter, RFeye DroneDefense would still be able to detect and geolocate the drone. That’s not to say that DroneDefense does not support signal identification: It can still characterize and identify newly detected threats to help build a historical picture of adversary attack vectors. Importantly, the system can also be used to whitelist known signals.

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An integrated approach

RFeye DroneDefense can be the cornerstone of your cUAS strategy or a key component of a wider solution. Our open API allows information to be shared with other systems. For example, RF geolocation data could be sent to radar or EO systems to aid targeting and help the security team obtain a much clearer picture of any potential drone activity. Having RFeye sensing technology from CRFS in your cUAS solution ensures the highest probability of intercept.

Read more about Integrated drone defense systems.

Integrated drone defense

Operationally deployed

RFeye DroneDefense systems are currently in operation across the globe, protecting installations from the threat of unauthorized drones. DroneDefense is a TRL9 product, used in field environments day and night, often for years on end, employing the same high-performing RF sensors and software we supply to military, intelligence and regulatory agencies around the world.

CRFS’s RFeye hardware is not another generic, low-quality COTS software-defined radio (SDR). Our extremely wideband, low-noise, high-resolution receiver uses a superheterodyne architecture to deliver unrivaled probability of intercept (POI) to capture even the most rapid transient signals.

To find out more about RFeye DroneDefense, and to view a demonstration, please get in touch.

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Further reading

What is 3D TDOA?

The basics of 3D geolocation

Drone Detection: Myths and Reality

Separating drone fact from drone fiction

Drones and Critical Infrastructure

Drones and border security