FAA, DHS Test Drone Detection Technology at Denver Airport

The Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Homeland Security conducted drone detection technology research at Denver International Airport this week.

The FAA and DHS are working to approve a technology that can identify when drones are near the airspace to avoid collisions with manned airplanes. The team tested technology that used an electronic signature, radar, acoustic capabilities, and high-powered optical systems.

Each month, the FAA receives more than 100 complaints from pilots about drones flying close to their flight path. Many drones are small and are evolving to include autonomous capabilities that may not emit detectable signals, which pilots could pick up on. The FAA is looking for a technology that can respond quickly to drones that could travel very close to commercial airplanes.

The FAA and DHS are also discussing the effects that the integration of drones will have on the security community, including bad actors who use drones for malicious purposes.

“Working with the FAA, the DHS Science and Technology Directorate is proud to provide our expertise in testing and simulation of technologies to better address the safety and security challenges posed by unmanned aerial systems,” said Robert Griffin, deputy under secretary for science and technology at DHS.

Officials from the Nevada and North Dakota Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Test Sites flew the drones during the technology evaluations in Denver. The other evaluation sites include Atlantic City International Airport, JFK International Airport, Eglin Air Force Base, Helsinki Airport, and Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport. The FAA is working with Liteye Systems Inc., Sensofusion, and CACI International, which are companies that have developed drone detection technology.

“Sometimes people fly drones in an unsafe manner,” said Marke “Hoot” Gibson, senior advisor on UAS integration at the FAA. “Government and industry share responsibility for keeping the skies safe, and we’re pleased these three companies have taken on this important challenge.”

Liteye’s AUDS technology is designed to detect and neutralize drones being used by bad actors using electronic scanning, and radar target detection and classification.

Sensofusion’s AIRFENCE technology uses software defines radios, alarm systems, triangulation, and cell phone notifications to alert airports when a drone is nearby.

CACI’s technology, SkyTracker uses radio frequency sensors at locations around an airport in high, prominent locations. When the sensors detect frequencies that drones typically use, it triangulates the signals and determines the location of both the drone and the operator. SkyTracker was tested before at the Atlantic City International Airport.

“SkyTracker successfully identified, detected, and tracked UAS in flight, and precisely located drone ground operators–all without interfering with airport ground operations,” said John Mengucci, chief operating officer and president of U.S. operations at CACI. “We are very proud to partner with the FAA and DHS to help ensure national airspace safety from the escalating UAS threat.”

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