BENGALURU (TIP): The threat perception is real. Late in 2015, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) had issued alerts of drone attacks in Delhi. Last month, Mumbai airport was put on high alert after a pilot spotted an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), popularly called drone.
But agencies in India don’t have a concrete solution. Unlike shooting down an enemy fighter aircraft over no man’s land, bringing down a drone using fire power in cities isn’t an option. Also, that there can be no ‘hot pursuit’ (where a missile follows a target emitting carbon or thermal energy) with these vehicles not emitting any carbon, poses a challenge.
A technological solution, thereby, is the only option and scientists from the Indian institute of Science (IISc) and the National Institute for Advanced Studies (NIAS) in Bengaluru, including noted scientist and former member of the Scientific Advisory Council to Prime Minister, Prof Baldev Raj, are trying to develop the same.
From ways of trying to intercept the drones and bring them down using, what one scientist termed “anti-drone” drones, to building a system that can remotely identify these objects, a host of ideas are on the drawing board.
The scientists are keen on developing a system using that could remotely identify the flying objects using electromagnetic waves—UAVs piloted remotely use radio waves (invisible electromagnetic waves) for control— and then either disabling them or, safe-land them.
Confirming the developments at IISc and NIAS, Additional Director General Police (crime and technical services) Bhaskar Rao, said: “Drones are increasing in numbers, becoming a serious concern across India. Therefore, we thought that an early solution needs to be available with us given the growing threat perception. The scientists, have committed to finding us a solution after a two-day meet.” The DGCA’s draft regulation on UAVs has remained on paper for more than two years now, with the local police still dealing with the issue in an ad hoc manner. Rao said, the punishment for flying a drone without permission now is only a negligible fine A senior intelligence officer said: “The issue is that you can assemble a drone using materials available in the open market here. And mounting of payloads (sensors used for surveillance or something that could strike) is also not too difficult. We need to know how to ground these things without collateral damage.”
He also pointed out that these objects are still classified as toys that can be checked in and brought into the country. “A lot of these things are brought in from China and southeast Asia. As long as it is in the right hands, the concern is only of them flying in areas they shouldn’t by mistake. But there is almost no certain way of knowing who is flying this and from where (immediately).”