Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M) have developed an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered drone that can take on rogue drones, an IIT-M statement said on Thursday.
The IIT-M said that the drone developed by its researchers can help law enforcement and security agencies as well as armed forces to secure air space over critical civilian and military installations against surveillance by rogue drones.
“It can track down rogue drones visually, hack into their GPS navigation system, following which the target drone is forced to change its flight path or land safely,” the statement said.
According to IIT-M, the drone can be controlled over the Internet and can navigate autonomously as compared with most existing drones that operate on ‘line of sight’, that is, the operator must keep the drone within their eyesight.
Using the Internet to control the drones also allows for deploying a swarm of drones that can intelligently detect and track people, drones, vehicles and other objects.
This drone system was designed by a team comprising Vasu Gupta, a final-year BTech student, Department of Aerospace Engineering, and Rishabh Vashistha, a Project Associate working in RAFT Lab, Department of Aerospace Engineering.
“Our current prototype is equipped to detect and track objects visually, fly through the Internet and land precisely. Our next step will be to conduct exhaustive tests on the system and ensure its reliability for catering to a wide range of demanding missions that pose a challenge to our law enforcement and defence agencies. The programmable nature of our aerial vehicles also opens up the possibility of using multiple vehicles as a team and accomplish a common mission,” Ranjith Mohan, Assistant Professor, Department of Aerospace Engineering, was quoted in the statement.
“The target drone’s GPS sensor locks onto our fake radio station transmitting at a much higher power than the available satellite’s transmission power. Following this, the drone generates fake GPS packets by mathematically modelling the time differences at the receiver’s end,” Gupta said.
“Using four of such time differences, the GPS sensor calculates its 3D position and calibrates the rogue drones’ time to our spoofed clock. This way, we alter the latitude, longitude, altitude and time of the rogue drones,” Gupta added.
“Algorithmically altering the 3D position allows us to move the target drone locally. Moreover, when a large variance is given in the spoofed GPS position, a failsafe (if any) is invoked at the target side which results in a safe landing of the target drone,” Vashistha said.
According to Vashistha, the electronic countermeasure was tested against nearly all the civilian GPS receivers used by the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) industry such as ublox and DJI inhouse GNSS and have been able to take down the drones almost instantaneously (within 4-5 seconds).