A British consortium says that technology it has developed to identify and disable unauthorized unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) flying near airports has been selected for testing at U.S. airports by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The Anti-UAV Defence System (AUDS), developed by Blighter Surveillance Systems, Chess Dynamics and Enterprise Control Systems, will be evaluated as part of the agency's Pathfinder initiative, according to the companies. "The FAA contacted our team following the success of AUDS at U.S. government-sponsored counter-UAV trials at the end of 2015," says Blighter Surveillance Systems CEO Mark Radford. "These trials confirmed that our production system was able to detect, track, disrupt and defeat a wide range of micro, mini and larger [drones]—even on unscripted sorties.”

Each month, the FAA receives more than 100 reports from pilots and others who spot what appear to be unmanned aircraft flying too close to an airport or manned airplane. It has become a serious safety concern for the agency and a potential security issue for the Department of Homeland Security.

According to its developers, the AUDS counter-UAV system can detect a drone six miles away using electronic scanning radar, track it using precision infrared and daylight cameras and specialist video-tracking software and disrupt the flight using an inhibitor to block the radio signals that control it. This detect, track, disrupt, defeat process typically takes 8-15 seconds. The AUDS team has now carried out over 400 hours of "live" testing in government-related trials against more than 400 flown sorties of Group 1 UAVs (under 20 lbs.).

The AUDS system can detect a drone six miles away using electronic scanning radar. Image credit: Blighter Surveillance Systems.The AUDS system can detect a drone six miles away using electronic scanning radar. Image credit: Blighter Surveillance Systems.“AUDS is able to operate effectively in complex airport environments night and day whatever the weather and without disrupting other airport equipment,” Radford says. “Using AUDS, the operator can effectively take control of a drone and force a safe landing inside or outside the airport perimeter."

According to Radford, the system can assist airport authorities in tracking down UAV pilots for prosecution by providing evidence (video footage or radar tracks) to the relevant authorities. Additionally, it can integrate "friendly assets" into the AUDS platform—e.g., a "friendly" drone—to extend the threat detection and situational awareness capabilities of the system and help capture rogue drone pilots.

Beyond airports, the AUDS system is intended for countering drones in remote border areas, at key infrastructure sites such as nuclear power stations and oil refineries and at political or sporting events in urban areas. It can be operated from fixed locations and mobile platforms.

To contact the author of this article, email engineering360editors@globalspec.com