ifsec 2018

Security drones: The future is autonomous

Barry Clack

Owner, Box Cottage Photography

Author Bio ▼

Presenter, film maker, drone operator, aerial cinematographer.
May 29, 2018

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Self-driving cars are in development by several major manufacturers and IT giants around the world and the potential benefits are clear.

One thing that’s not so well recognised is the availability of autonomous drones that are able to fly predetermined patrols and automatically avoid obstacles, including other drones.

Using familiar interfaces like Google Earth and OS mapping users can simply drag and drop the chosen route, let the drone take-off and fly on complete autopilot. The drones then send back high definition video or other outputs to the operator or other viewers remotely over the internet.

Dedicated platforms are being developed by specialists who can take this even further. For example, a drone could be automatically deployed if a sensor on a secured perimeter is triggered.

potential breach point, the drone could automatically sweep the area (with either daylight or thermal imaging, or both) and send out alerts if anything is detected. Using tracking technology, the drone could even lock on to any suspect and follow them automatically, constantly broadcasting the location and a visual stream.

Eventually these systems could be integrated with law enforcement or other systems to provide an automated threat response.

Biggest hurdle

The biggest hurdle that autonomous drones need to overcome isn’t the development of hardware and software, but rather to show airspace regulators and governments that the platforms can comply with existing and future licensing and regulatory requirements.

In the UK, the Civil Aviation Authority and National Air Traffic Services have shown a strong commitment to providing a sensible framework within which commercial drones can operate successfully. The commercial drone sector in the UK has led the way with initiatives including operator training and licensing, operational safety and technological innovation.

Services now exist which enable drones to receive real-time information about the airspace around

The development of ‘’drone airspace management’ is another area where the UK is driving technology. Services now exist which enable drones to receive real-time information about the airspace around them such as: their proximity to other aircraft or to ground obstacles, the location of other drones, and the position of any restricted airspace or no-fly zones.

‘Internet of Things’ technology is making it possible for autonomous drones to ‘talk’ to each other and either avoid a collision or operate collaboratively. The latter could be particularly useful in the case of a major security incident or for multi-drone patrols of large properties and difficult terrain.

The hardware itself will continue to develop at a pace because battery technology has moved quickly in a short space of time. Drones that could stay airborne for 12 minutes at a time two years ago can now make flights of 30 minutes or more, despite carrying larger payloads.

Fixed-wing drones can have flight times measured in hours. High strength, low weight materials are increasingly making their way into drone design, further increasing range, speed and endurance.

Despite these exciting developments, the main goal of the drone industry is to give users what they need by making this advanced technology transparent to the user. Autonomous operation is a key benefit that will enable drones to be seen as simply another advanced sensor that works seamlessly with your whole security portfolio.

IFSEC International 2018, which takes place between 19-21 June at ExCeL London, will once again feature live demonstrations of security drones in the Drone ZoneRegister for your free pass.

‘Secure by Default’ in the Age of Converged Security: Insights from IFSEC 2019

From data security to the risks and opportunities of artificial intelligence, the conversations at IFSEC International shape future security strategies and best practices. This eBook brings you exclusive insights from these conversations, covering:

  • A Global Political and Security Outlook from Frank Gardner OBE
  • Surveillance Camera Day: Tony Porter launches ‘Secure by Default’ requirements for video surveillance systems
  • Using Drones to Secure the Future
  • Autonomous Cars and AI: Relocating human incompetence from drivers to security engineers?
  • The Ethical and Geopolitical Implications of AI and Machine Learning

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