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Issues with Nano Drones

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November 02, 2023

Why in news?

The emergence of Nano and micro drones and compact unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with advanced capabilities, introduce fresh security challenges.

What are drones?

  • Drone- It means an aircraft that can operate autonomously or remotely without a pilot on board.
  • India reported 79 cases of using drones for weapon delivery 2020, 109 in 2021 and 266 in 2022.

drones

Provisions under Drone (Amendment) Rules 2022

  • Criteria- To operate a drone legally, the criteria set by the Civil Aviation Ministry and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation must be adhered to.
  • Exception- Nano/micro category drones for non-commercial use.
  • All drone activities are permitted only after receiving prior approval for a flight or series of flights.
  • Licence- The remote pilot certificate will not be required for flying small-to-medium size drones of up to 2 kg for non-commercial purposes.

What are the challenges posed by Nano drones?

  • Security- Although Nano drones lack artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities, they possess lethal intelligence-gathering capabilities.
  • Safety- Nano drones can be difficult to detect, and their small size makes it difficult to regulate their use.
  • Radars are dedicated to detecting aerial tracks, but mini-drones have low radar signatures, making them challenging to identify, especially in urban areas with potential false alerts.
  • Drone Swarms- When deployed in swarms, they can become highly dangerous without effective countermeasures.
  • Waste disposal- Nano drones are often made of lightweight materials which can be difficult to recycle or dispose of safely.
  • Complexity- Protecting against small UAV threats is a complex task that goes beyond simply stopping the drone.

How to detect the Nano drones?

  • Sensors- To enhance detection capabilities, a combination of sensors is essential.
  • EM sensors-These defence systems capitalise on the radio signals used for drone communication (uplink and downlink).
  • Intercepting these signals through electronic surveillance helps locate the drone and its control station.
  • Infrared sensors- Thermal cameras can detect drones even in low visibility conditions and at night.
  • Acoustic sensors- Drones that produce noise during flight can be detectable by acoustic sensors.
  • These sensors help classify the drone based on its specific noise characteristics, making them useful in conjunction with radar systems to cover both short and long ranges.

What lies ahead?

  • An integrated anti-drone dome with cutting-edge sensors, radars, and AI is crucial for safeguarding critical sites and events.
  • By investing in such defences, India can protect citizens and assets from evolving drone threats.

Drone Policy of India

  • Drones Rules, 2021 - It provides the regulatory framework for commercial use of drones through certification, registration and operation of drones, airspace restrictions, research, development and testing of drones, training and licensing, etc.
  • Drone Airspace Map- It has opened nearly 90% of Indian airspace as a green zone for drone flying up to 400 feet.
  • Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme- To promote the growth of drone manufacturing by private companies.
  • UAS Traffic Management (UTM) Policy Framework- It is an approved public or private entity that would assist various stakeholders to meet the operational requirements for enabling safe and efficient use of airspace,
  • Drone Certification Scheme- It was notified for making it easier to obtain type certificate by drone manufacturers.
  • Drone Import Policy- It banned import of foreign drones and freeing up import of drone components.
  • Drone (Amendment) Rules, 2022- It abolished the requirement of a drone pilot licence for drones of up to 2 kg for non-commercial purposes.

 

References

  1. Business Line- Security challenges of Nano drones
  2. PIB- Drone policy of India
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