Defence Analysis

Australia investing heavily into counter-drone military technology

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American soldier holding an RQ-11B Raven UAV (Image by U.S. Government, via rawpixel)

Australia's investment into research and development for counter-drone military technology is an astute response to evolving means of warfare, writes Paul Budde.

DEFENCE COMPANY DroneShield has opened a new headquarters in Sydney, tripling its sovereign defence research and development (R&D) and manufacturing capacity to $400 million.

The new site in Pyrmont follows DroneShield’s recent $115 million capital raise, which it will use to scale operations. The headquarters will include facilities for DroneShield’s 120 local staff and a dedicated high-tech R&D, engineering and manufacturing floor.

This development is partly driven by collaboration among the Five Eyes Allies. The company says it is filling orders from the government, defence and commercial customers in 70 countries. DroneShield is the second largest publicly listed defence company in Australia.

The new headquarters will enable the company to expedite the build-up of inventory to support strong demand for its products. This includes a pipeline of over $500 million with more than 90 qualified projects at different stages and $27 million in orders currently being fulfilled.

I am sure that these technologies will also be used and tested on the battlefield in Ukraine as well as in areas where they can be used to protect public events.

As the landscape of aerial threats evolves, counter-drone technology must advance to meet the growing challenges. This cutting-edge development leverages geographical and environmental data from various sensors to identify, track and validate drone threats with remarkable precision.

Key is threat detection and tracking

The software DroneShield developed gathers detection data from its own radar and RF detectors as well as third-party sources. This sensor fusion capability allows them to accurately pinpoint the location of potential threats, ensuring that no drone goes unnoticed.

Once a potential threat enters the camera's field of view, its algorithms kick into action. Utilising advanced motion tracking and machine learning techniques, the software identifies and tracks the target.

This process is underpinned by a comprehensive drone database, which has been trained on nearly 100,000 individual samples, enabling the model to classify targets with high accuracy.

The need for high-quality data collection

One of the standout features of DroneOptID is its capability for high-quality evidence collection. Operators can access past detection events and retrieve camera recordings with this feature’s overlays.

It provides a detailed visual record of the threat, which is crucial for post-event analysis and legal proceedings. The ability to review and analyse these events helps in refining detection strategies and improving overall security measures.

Extended capabilities beyond detection

This software extends beyond mere detection. It employs a flight prediction algorithm that assists in tracking drones even when they move out of the camera's view. This predictive capability is crucial in maintaining continuous surveillance and ensuring that the threat is constantly monitored.

It also enhances the camera’s ability to visually display moving targets, including their payloads. This level of detail is often unavailable from other sensors.

The system allows operators to confirm the effectiveness of active countermeasures, whether electronic warfare or kinetic interventions, through the software’s detailed feedback mechanisms. This confirmation step is vital in ensuring that threats are neutralised effectively and in real time.

The company’s developments represent a significant leap forward in drone threat detection and mitigation. With its advanced sensor fusion, machine learning algorithms and robust design, it offers a comprehensive solution to modern aerial threats.

As DroneShield continues to innovate and expand, the future of drone defence looks promising and well-equipped to handle emerging challenges.

It is great to see such a high-tech company being established in Australia. This development is a great step towards making our economy smarter and will certainly stimulate further innovations.

A few weeks ago, this reporter wrote an article about the quantum computing company PsiQuantum, which is another great contribution to a fast-changing society and its underlying economy.

Paul Budde is an Independent Australia columnist and managing director of Paul Budde Consulting, an independent telecommunications research and consultancy organisation. You can follow Paul on Twitter @PaulBudde.

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