Researchers learn how to pinpoint malicious drone operators

Researchers have come up with a way to pinpoint the location of drone operators seeking to cause harm or disruption in protected airspace. 

In 2018, the chaos that can be caused by drone operators near sensitive areas — such as military bases or airports — was highlighted by the Gatwick drone incident, in which the UK airport was forced to close for 33 hours between December 19 and 21. 

The airport was inundated with passengers attempting to fly, made busier due to the Christmas rush, and had to cancel flight after flight due to a rogue unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). 

In total, 140,000 passengers were impacted by a drone, or several, that were spotted at various locations including runways.

Due to the safety issues linked to drones, including the potential damage of craft, it was not possible for planes to take off — despite Gatwick’s continual efforts to reopen runways during the incident. 

A £50,000 ($62,000) reward for any information on the culprit responsible, so far, has led to no leads and no convictions. 

See also: A 2-in-1 transformer drone? Coming to a battlefield near you

When a few drones can cause such chaos, being able to pinpoint the location of operators would be a blessing. Now, academics from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) have demonstrated a potential means to do so. 

In a research paper (.PDF), “Can the operator of a drone be located by following the drone’s path?,” published this month, the research team explored how analysis of flight paths may be useful in tracking malicious operators down. 

Led by Dr. Gera Weiss from BGU’s Department of Computer Science, the team attempted to tackle the problems associated with monitoring flight paths accurately, made more difficult due to the variety of electronic signals all around us. 

“Currently, drone operators are located using RF techniques and require sensors around the flight area which can then be triangulated,” said researcher Eliyahu Mashhadi. “This is challenging due to the amount of other Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and IoT signals in the air that obstruct drone signals.”

The solution BGU came up with was the use of neutral networking. Rather than focusing on trying to untangle a variety of signals, the network was trained to predict the location of an operator using only flight paths — even when in motion. 

AirSim, an open-source, cross-platform simulator for drones was used to conduct the tests, using 10km of roads and realistic obstacles such as buildings. 

CNET: Facebook shared user data with developers after access should have expired

As shown below, the drone would be flown from point A to point B, and a data set containing 81 flights formed the basis of the network’s predictive modeling. 


In total, the algorithms were able to predict the location of a drone operator with 78% accuracy during simulations, and while the experiment is small, BGU says possible paths towards improvement include improving the machine learning pipeline or even attempts to gain insight into the skill level or training of an operator. 

The research team now intends to repeat the experiments with drones in real-time. 

TechRepublic: 9 tech products companies can buy for reopening offices during the pandemic

BGU’s research was presented at the Fourth International Symposium on Cyber Security, Cryptography and Machine Learning (CSCML 2020) on July 3.

Previous and related coverage

Have a tip? Get in touch securely via WhatsApp | Signal at +447713 025 499, or over at Keybase: charlie0

Incineroar amiibo  Super Smash Bros Collection No. 79 Incineroar amiibo Super Smash Bros Collection No. 79
Incineroar amiibo. A fighter with many special moves that appear to come from the world of pro wrestling. Incineroar has many moves from its original game like Darkest Lariat Cross Chop and Revenge. Its Final Smash is Max Malicious Moonsault. Let the ZPower explode and deliver a powerful blow ...
by: Nintendo

RIG 500 Nacon Headphones PS4 RIG 500 Nacon Headphones PS4
Control the battlefield with RIG 500 PRO. A metal headband with a lightweight exoskeleton tuned acoustic chambers 50 mm drivers and intuitive inline volume control create a highresolution audio experience. Highresolution gaming audio lets you pinpoint your competition anywhere on the playing field. Vibrationdampening exoskeleton earcups finely tuned acoustic chambers and powerful 50 mm drivers create an immersive sound experience to give you the winning edge ...
by: Plantronics

VFR Real Scenery  Volume 2 PC VFR Real Scenery Volume 2 PC
VFR stands for 'Visual Flight Rules' this is the way that pilots navigate when they aren't using complex instruments they look at a map and then pinpoint landmarks on the ground to work out their course and position. It's the most common form of recreational flying undertaken in the UK but to do this in a flight simulator requires scenery that's exactly the same as the real landscape. VFR Real Scenery is an amazing piece of software that provides just that fly over England and Wales in Flight Simulator X and sample the view you'd get from a real aircraft. You can see the real countryside from the air and pinpoint every key landmark. It's all featured streets buildings rivers lakes reservoirs and all at extremely high resolution and detail Hampshire Berkshire Wiltshire Oxfordshire Gloucestershire Warwickshire Worcestershire Leicestershire Nottinghamshire Staffordshire and parts of Dorset West Sussex Surrey Northamptonshire Derbyshire Shropshire Herefordshire and Cheshire ...
by: Just Flight

Firestone FS 833 ( 315/80 R22.5 156/150K ) Firestone FS 833 ( 315/80 R22.5 156/150K )
FS833 Steer tyre: Get the job done 

Thanks to its durable and reinforced compound, the new On/Off steer tyre delivers long-lasting performance. The rib lug pattern design gives truck operators the steering and the grip they need, while its robust construction minimises the risk of cutting and chipping. 

by: Firestone