New system to detect drones on trial at NDP

The Gamekeeper radar system (covered partially by tarpaulin) can detect drones with a cross-section area as small as 100 sq cm, so it is able to pick up most of the popular consumer drones. The trial comes amid heightened security features for this y
The Gamekeeper radar system (covered partially by tarpaulin) can detect drones with a cross-section area as small as 100 sq cm, so it is able to pick up most of the popular consumer drones. The trial comes amid heightened security features for this year's NDP.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Its performance will help decide whether system will be deployed throughout S'pore

A new drone detection system currently installed near the Singapore Flyer will face its biggest test at the National Day Parade (NDP) tomorrow, the results of which could determine whether more of such systems will be deployed throughout Singapore.

The Gamekeeper radar system, which was sold to ST Electronics in February, uses specially designed radar technology to detect and track unmanned aerial vehicles - including small, consumer-model drones - up to a range of 5km.

Developed by Cambridge-based radar technology company Aveillant, the system does not sweep through airspace as traditional radar does. Instead, it projects a continuous radar spotlight that gathers the three-dimensional position and motion of objects in its vicinity, and is able to detect drones with a cross-section area as small as 100 sq cm.

This means it is able to pick up most of the popular consumer drones, including the DJI Phantom 4 and the svelte Mavic Pro.

The Gamekeeper system also does not do anything else that might damage drones, such as jamming global positioning signals.

The Straits Times understands that the drone detection system has been undergoing trials over the past six months.

This radar system trial comes amid heightened security features for this year's NDP, which has been designated as a "special event" under the Public Order Act.

"The unauthorised flying of drones around the vicinity of The Float@Marina Bay poses a threat to the safety and conduct of the NDP, as there will be performances involving low-flying aircraft and drones," said a spokesman for the NDP 2017 Executive Committee.

"ST Electronics offered the NDP 2017 Executive Committee the Aveillant Gamekeeper Radar to test its drone detection capabilities. The system is located within the proximity of the Singapore Flyer to detect and track unauthorised drones near the NDP performance area."

Deployment of the system in the future is dependent on ST Electronics' evaluation of the system from the trial results, added the spokesman.

Drone hobbyists here said that while they understand the security concerns at play in setting up such a system, there could have been more communication between the authorities and the drone community about the purpose of the system and whether it could harm the drones.

Sales manager Steven Neo, 50, who moderates a drone hobbyist group on Facebook, said: "The radar system should have been made known earlier, so that flyers know what it does and how it works when we fly in the area."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2017, with the headline 'New system to detect drones on trial at NDP'. Print Edition | Subscribe