The ARNL researchers' project proposal entitled "Distinguishing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from birds and other flying objects in 3D LiDAR point clouds" has been awarded a grant from the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research. The winning research team consists of László András Majdik, PhD, Tamás Szirányi, DSc, Gábor Kovács, PhD, and Anita Keszler, PhD.
The research project will invoke broad public interest as it aims to develop a low-cost UAV detection and tracking technology based on rosette-scanning LiDAR; a security technology that is affordable even for individual users. Such a more widely available technology will help to protect the privacy of citizens, enhance the security of critical infrastructures and increase society's sense of security against unauthorised and/or inappropriate use of UAVs. A major technical challenge in the project is to distinguish between UAVs and other small flying objects. The solution of this project task will increase the accuracy and efficiency of detecting drones that pose a real threat.
An important precursor to this successful project application was the recently established HUN-REN SZTAKI Micro Sensing and Machine Vision Arena, which allows the study of high-speed, palm-sized drones, and the research and development of various image processing algorithms and also of some visual sensing and measurement tasks. The micro sensing and machine vision system in the arena now also encompasses a rosette scanning LiDAR, which forms the basis of the research to be carried out in the project. The HUN-REN SZTAKI MIMO arena, as part of the 3D sensing and modelling measurement system research infrastructure network, was recently awarded the Top50+ Excellent Research Infrastructure award, see details in DOI: https://doi.org/10.52033/topri.2021.
To summarize, the aim of the project is to develop new basic research, models and algorithms to thoroughly exploit the capabilities of modern LiDAR sensors. It is expected that these models and algorithms can be integrated into a reliable outdoor drone detection and tracking system.