The detection, tracking, identification and if necessary, interception of drones, are not only important tasks, but also crucial challenges of a modern surveillance and defense system. Drones and drone-swarms enable a variety of new mission profiles and applications, resulting in many new threats and increasing risk for sensitive infrastructure.
Existing drone detection systems allow early detection of approaching drones (up to 10 km range) and coarse localization (in the range of degrees), but the optical verification and identification of the object is limited to a range of approximately 1 km, which results in a typical response time of below 30 s. Especially with respect to drone swarms and their significantly larger effort for detection and defense, this time is not long enough to allow effective and target-oriented countermeasures.
The proposed project targets are the development of a mobile, optical platform, which allows to address two of the named key challenges in counter drone systems. By combination of a high-precision, high-speed, robotic telescope system and a camera system, automated detection and tracking of drones is enabled, which allows real-time, high-quality imaging and therefore identification of the target object. This system enables high quality optical images of the object and therefore, the unambiguous identification of the target object and its potential payload. In contrast to existing systems the tracking and identification range will be extended up to 5 km, effectively increasing the response time to more than two minutes. By utilization of the telescope system’s location, the position feedback from the integrated encoders of the mount and the optical feedback from the camera system the trajectory of the tracked drone can be determined. The evaluation of the necessity and selection of suitable countermeasures against the drone is simplified drastically, as the drone as well as its possibly dangerous payload can be observed from a safe distance. The proposed system allows both, an autonomous tracking mode, where it scans for any drones in a specified area, or reconnaissance of externally detected drones, provided by the integration into a multi-spectral drone detection system (e.g. radar, RF-detection). Additionally, the integration of other systems such as directed countermeasures onto the high-precision guided telescope mount is possible.