Researchers measure radar cross sections to improve drone detection


Researchers from Finland, Belgium and the USA have measured the radar cross sections of drones to establish an open-database of known types and improve drone detection methods.

With drones being increasingly used across society and industry for many different applications, they can cause public harm and be used maliciously. The researchers hope the database can be used to help design radar systems and new drone detection techniques to improve public safety.

Radar is commonly used to monitor the presence of drones and prevent possible threats. However, drones are manufactured in a range of sizes, shapes and often use composite materials, making them challenging to detect with radar.

Researchers from Aalto University in Finland, UCLouvain in Belgium, and New York University, USA have gathered extensive radar measurement data of commercially available and custom-built drone models’ Radar Cross Section (RCS), which indicates how the target reflects radio signals. The RCS signature can help to identify the size, shape and the material of the drone.

Researcher Vasilii Semkin from Aalto University said, “We measured drones’ RCS at multiple 26-40 GHz millimetre-wave frequencies to better understand how drones can be detected and to investigate the difference between drone models and materials in terms of scattering radio signals.

“We believe that our results will be a starting point for a future uniform drone database. Therefore, all results are publicly available along with our research paper.”

The publicly accessible measurement data could be used in the development of radar systems, as well as machine learning algorithms for more complex identification. This would increase the probability of detecting drones and reducing fault detections.

“There is an urgent need to find better ways to monitor drone use. We aim to continue this work and extend the measurement campaign to other frequency bands, as well as for a larger variety of drones and different real-life environments,” added Semkin.

Researchers are now studying the possibility that 5G base stations could be used in the future for surveillance.

“We are developing millimetre-wave wireless communication technology, which could also be used in sensing the environment like a radar. With this technology, 5G-base stations could detect drones, among other things,” said professor Ville Viikari from Aalto University’s Department of Electronics and Nanoengineering.




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About Author


Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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