DRODEC: Why a decentralized drone detection network makes sense.

DeFli Team

4/23/20243 min read

Unmanned aviation is a rapidly growing industry and it will not be long until we see the “Uber for Drone Deliveries” emerging as a new entry to the “gig economy”.

Whilst commercial lead unmanned aviation, specifically BVLOS can be managed through the use of existing Rf and SATCOM protocols such as ADSB for identification, ACARS for in-flight communications and C-Band for messaging, there is an elephant in the room when it comes to the monitoring of private UA’s (drones etc) operating on both commercial and private missions.

Sure, bodies such as the FAA and EASA are introducing identification protocols such as RemoteID however the question remains “how can this be monitored at a localized level both for commercial deployments and for land/property owners”.

The heart of the issue is in the nature of the private drone market. Dominated by DJI and Parrot, RemoteID and detection systems are predominantly produced by the same manufacturers as those who produce the drones that are being monitored. This enables them to charge huge sums for the device such as the DJI Aeroscope priced at an eye-watering $25,000. In addition to this, private drones utilize frequencies in the 2.4GHz and 5 GHz spectrums which vastly limits the range on these high priced devices.

So whilst specific infrastructure such as airports and high-risk buildings see an investment in a high-priced device as a non-negotiable it is unlikely that they will share this data on a public forum that allows businesses, property-owners and commercial deployers to tap in to and visualize this data.

This is where the DeFli Drone Detection Network (DRODEC) fills a huge market gap.

To understand the DRODEC network it is first important to look at how private drones communicate.

By law all private drones must communicate specific information via data packet. These transmissions must be sent at least every second. The protocol in which these data packets are sent varies depending on the age and model of the drone. These protocols are “enhanced WIFi” and “occusync”. The main variance is in which frequencies the data packets are transmitted on.

Some drones transmit on frequencies between 2400MHz and 2484MHz with a specific frequency around 2437MHz, others transmit on frequencies between 5725MHz and 5875MHz. Data packets are often deployed in a “hopping” mechanism meaning they are not specific to a frequency, only the range.

The data contained in the packets is best explained using this image

The information captured from these data packets enables identification as well as live-plotting within the DeFli UTM and the DRODEC Console, the latter being a standalone interface for users of DRODEC who do not have a requirement for a traffic management system.

DRODEC Ground Stations

The purpose of DRODEC Ground Stations is to replicate what the DJI Aeroscope does although at a much shorter range, typically 3 miles compared to the 20 mile range of an aeroscope. The idea being that a dense network of DRODEC’s will offer a greater coverage than DJI Aeroscope’s (and other products) without any upfront cap-ex for users of the DRODEC console.

The DRODEC ground station works by continually scanning the frequency channels that drones operate on looking for these data packets. Filters are used to remove most of the noise from the spectrum. DRODEC ground stations can “hop” between frequencies to enable a greater search spread and include a built in decoder that translates the data packets in to a machine readable format as a JSON file. In addition, AI is used to monitor and log the frequencies used by specific drones to make the channel hopping selection and the determined oscillation of the SDR’s more precise. Crucially, DRODEC’s do not require LoS to a drone to be able to obtain the packets and so the use of omni-directional antennas at an elevated position will offer a 3 mile radius at 360 degrees.

The DRODEC Network will allow businesses, individuals, home owners and those deploying their own drones under the “uber for drone deliveries” to access information about drone deployments around them as well as being able to deploy their own counter-measures such as jamming specific channels. Further development of the DRODEC network will allow for channel jamming to occur directly from an outbound transmission from the DRODEC device if required, this vastly improves security offerings.

The DRODEC console will be a “live map” style system, with users able to obtain all the publicly declared information about a specific drone in their vicinity whilst also enabling the gathering of sufficient information to report unwanted/illegal incursions to legal bodies who possess the user databases that link to the drones and their packets.

In addition, DRODEC JSON data will be made available as a raw format to users to enable them to port data directly in to their own systems thus enabling integration with bodies such as the FAA and military. The DRODEC console will be available on a “pay as you go” basis with users acquiring time specific access (daily, weekly, monthly) including access to historic data. Finally the DRODEC JSON data will be combined with the DeFli UTM (ADSB, L-BAND, ACARS) to create the most data rich aircraft mapping tool available.