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Proceedings Paper

Detection and tracking of drones using advanced acoustic cameras
Author(s): Joël Busset; Florian Perrodin; Peter Wellig; Beat Ott; Kurt Heutschi; Torben Rühl; Thomas Nussbaumer
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Paper Abstract

Recent events of drones flying over city centers, official buildings and nuclear installations stressed the growing threat of uncontrolled drone proliferation and the lack of real countermeasure. Indeed, detecting and tracking them can be difficult with traditional techniques. A system to acoustically detect and track small moving objects, such as drones or ground robots, using acoustic cameras is presented. The described sensor, is completely passive, and composed of a 120-element microphone array and a video camera. The acoustic imaging algorithm determines in real-time the sound power level coming from all directions, using the phase of the sound signals. A tracking algorithm is then able to follow the sound sources. Additionally, a beamforming algorithm selectively extracts the sound coming from each tracked sound source. This extracted sound signal can be used to identify sound signatures and determine the type of object. The described techniques can detect and track any object that produces noise (engines, propellers, tires, etc). It is a good complementary approach to more traditional techniques such as (i) optical and infrared cameras, for which the object may only represent few pixels and may be hidden by the blooming of a bright background, and (ii) radar or other echo-localization techniques, suffering from the weakness of the echo signal coming back to the sensor. The distance of detection depends on the type (frequency range) and volume of the noise emitted by the object, and on the background noise of the environment. Detection range and resilience to background noise were tested in both, laboratory environments and outdoor conditions. It was determined that drones can be tracked up to 160 to 250 meters, depending on their type. Speech extraction was also experimentally investigated: the speech signal of a person being 80 to 100 meters away can be captured with acceptable speech intelligibility.

Paper Details

Date Published: 13 October 2015
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 9647, Unmanned/Unattended Sensors and Sensor Networks XI; and Advanced Free-Space Optical Communication Techniques and Applications, 96470F (13 October 2015); doi: 10.1117/12.2194309
Show Author Affiliations
Joël Busset, Distran GmbH (Switzerland)
Florian Perrodin, Distran GmbH (Switzerland)
Peter Wellig, Armasuisse (Switzerland)
Beat Ott, Armasuisse (Switzerland)
Kurt Heutschi, EMPA (Switzerland)
Torben Rühl, RUAG Defence (Switzerland)
Thomas Nussbaumer, RUAG Defence (Switzerland)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9647:
Unmanned/Unattended Sensors and Sensor Networks XI; and Advanced Free-Space Optical Communication Techniques and Applications
Edward M. Carapezza; Leslie Laycock; Henry J. White; Panos G. Datskos; Christos Tsamis, Editor(s)

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