Smartphones vs. drones: CARPE Dronvm detection and tracking system (USA)

Smartphones vs. drones: CARPE Dronvm detection and tracking system (USA)
Start drone-targets, July 18, 2023

The Pentagon, like the military departments of other countries, continues to search for effective means to combat unmanned aerial vehicles. Recently, the promising airborne target detection system CARPE Dronvm was presented and tested. It is distinguished from other similar developments by its architecture and operating principle: the key element of such a system is an ordinary smartphone with special software.

Designed and tested

Over the past years, the Pentagon and its contractors have been actively working on the topic of combating UAVs. Particular attention is paid to the development of specialized detection tools capable of detecting even the most complex targets. In such projects, both well-known and mastered technologies and new developments are used.

In 2019, the Pentagon awarded MITER an order to develop an advanced UAV detection and tracking system based on unusual components and ideas. The project was called CARPE Dronvm (“Catch a Drone” - a play on words based on the Latin expression Carpe Diem), which generally reflects its essence.

Until recently, the existence of "Carpe dronum" was not reported. The first reports about this system appeared only in July 2023, when it had already entered testing. In the future, the customer and the development company spoke several times about the system as a whole, noted its strengths and gave assessments.

It is expected that in the near future the new detection system will undergo the necessary modifications and after that may enter service. Thanks to its distinctive architecture, deployment and commissioning of the CARPE Dronvm system is quite simple and does not require much effort.

Distributed system

The “Catch the Drone” project proposed and implemented an interesting detection system architecture. Instead of a few radars or optical-electronic stations monitoring a certain space, it is proposed to use a large number of smartphones with special software. In addition, the system has a central control center responsible for processing information and issuing target designations to other means.

The "user" part of the CARPE Dronvm system is represented by an application for smartphones with iOS and Android operating systems. It has the minimum required set of functions to ensure the detection, identification and tracking of air targets. The command post, in turn, is a full-fledged server with advanced features. In particular, it uses elements of artificial intelligence to solve some problems.

The principle of operation of the system is quite simple. The software is distributed among the personnel and is waiting in the wings. When an unmanned aerial vehicle is detected, a military or intelligence officer must take a photo of it using the CARPE Dronvm application.

Through existing communication channels, the picture, along with coordinates and other information, is sent to the command post. Then the central server, using artificial intelligence, determines whether the target is the UAV, what danger it can pose, etc. Having received such information from a large number of "operators" from the field, the command post can clarify the data on the target, tie up the route and issue target designation to means of suppression or destruction. Provides work on multiple targets in the same area - the central server is able to distinguish between them.

During the test

In mid-July 2023, the Pentagon announced the successful testing of the Catch a Drone system at the test site. The events were held by the 39th task force of the Central Command of the Army, which is engaged in the development of promising technologies. The system was tested at the National Guard Joint Base MacIntyre (South Carolina) and the nearest Poinsett training ground.

A test participant takes a photo of the UAV

The conditional target during the test was a light aircraft-type UAV. He had to fly from the McIntyre base to the Poinsett training ground with a range of several tens of kilometers. At this time, there were military personnel on the ground along the flight route with smartphones and the Carpe Dronum application.

Test participants were able to see and hear a flying drone without the use of special equipment. They then took photos and sent them to a central server. All details of the event are not disclosed, but it is reported that the assigned tasks were solved. The “operators” on the ground did their job, and the server part of the system correctly identified the air target and provided data for further suppression/destruction.

Test participants noted the ease of use of the CARPE Dronvm application and the ease of solving assigned tasks. The central command post also coped with its work and confirmed the calculated characteristics and capabilities. However, the most interesting details of the tests and the project as a whole were not disclosed due to the sensitivity of the topic.

New approach

The development of the CARPE Dronvm detection system took several years, and only now it has entered the test. It is likely that testing and testing of its various components will take some more time, but the overall potential has already been shown, and you can also understand the prospects for such development. In general, it has a number of strengths and advantages, copes with the tasks set and can be put into service. At the same time, operators will have to face some limitations and disadvantages.

The main advantage of the Catch a Drone system is its relative cheapness and ease of deployment. A key component of the system is the "grouping" of smartphones distributed over the area. User-operators can use their own gadgets, and the army does not have to spend money on bulk purchases. However, a command post with all the required capabilities turns out to be difficult and expensive.

At the command post

The functions of a smartphone as part of such a system are reduced to taking a photo and then transferring it, along with other data, to the command post, which reduces the requirements for user equipment. All data is processed by a single server with the necessary characteristics. At the same time, his work can be extremely difficult due to the difference in the quality of the photos sent, associated with the features of gadgets or with external conditions.

In theory, CARPE Dronvm can receive data from hundreds or even thousands of smartphones located in the same area. This flow of information will make it possible to more accurately determine the class, type and location of the UAV. However, processing the entire volume of data will be a difficult task, which can negatively affect the performance and other parameters of the system.

The CARPE Dronvm architecture allows you to create systems of different scales. Thus, both military personnel and civilians can have the corresponding application on their smartphone. Thanks to this approach, it will be possible to increase the controlled territories, increase the probability of detecting a UAV, the accuracy of determining its coordinates, etc. However, at the same time, the requirements for the computing power of the command post are growing.

New approaches

Thus, the US Army continues to search for answers to pressing questions. In order to more effectively combat the threat of UAVs, systems and complexes of traditional types are being improved, as well as new ideas and approaches are being developed and tested. The most successful promising developments will be developed and used in practice.

The recently tested CARPE Dronvm system from MITER has some chances for further development and adoption in the future. It has strengths and may be of interest to potential customers. In addition, the main capabilities of the system have already been confirmed in the test site. Whether the system will cope with further tests and whether it will be able to realize its full potential, time will tell.
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  1. +3
    8 September 2023
    Whether the system will cope with further tests and whether it will be able to realize its full potential, time will tell.
    .That's right..
  2. +4
    8 September 2023
    took photos and sent them to the central server

    And in response, according to the coordinates of the included smartphones, new drones arrived with gifts fool
    Well thought out good
    1. 0
      8 September 2023
      So it is, so it is, of course, but in the absence of other means of artillery reconnaissance, the use of their microphones to determine the positions of enemy artillery is justified, even if it is associated with risk. When your positions are already under fire, using smartphones is unlikely to cause any problems, but you can calculate the location of enemy artillery.
    2. 0
      8 September 2023
      Quote: Popandos
      Well thought out

      Yeah, especially this one:
      When an unmanned aerial vehicle is detected, a military serviceman or intelligence officer must take his photo via the CARPE Dronvm application.
      This is so that there will be something to hang on the grave: from this “drone” Private First Class John Patrick White rested in his life! laughing
      I think PHOTOS of our FVS drones will turn out especially well! Close-up! seconds before the explosion! fellow
    3. +1
      8 September 2023
      They took it right off the tongue. Here, not only a drone flies to the phone, but also mines or shells.
  3. +4
    8 September 2023
    It was like something like that, when all the idiots downloaded the Pokemon catching game all over the world and thereby transmitted pictures of important objects and geolocation to them. It was a brilliant invention, to play on human weaknesses and stupidity to get what you want. The mobile phone is becoming more and more effective weapon!
  4. +1
    8 September 2023
    Gospidya... the deeds of your creations are amazing! So you see the "picture" ...: "Photographer" to the drone: delay, "buddy" at this point in space, if you want to get a great picture! Smile! Cheese! And in response, as a thank you, a drone bomb to the "photographer"!
  5. +3
    8 September 2023
    So what kind of detection system is this? If a soldier saw or heard, he would send a smartphone with an installed program, but what if he didn’t see it?
    As a tracking system, yes a working scheme, but I don’t see high efficiency from it, unless in peacetime or deep in the rear.
    It’s also interesting how the high activity of smartphones on the LBS will affect the owners of the smartphones.
    1. -3
      8 September 2023
      The article simply does not contain complete information about the system. It may very well be that there are some additional means of detection, such as active headphones or the use of a built-in radio receiver for direction finding.
      1. +3
        8 September 2023

        The principle of operation of the system is quite simple. The software is distributed among the personnel and is waiting in the wings. When an unmanned aerial vehicle is detected, a military or intelligence officer must take a photo of it using the CARPE Dronvm application.

        Have you read between the lines about active headphones or other gadgets? I proceed from the data presented in the article, and not from fortune-telling. If you have any other information, please give us the coordinates.
        1. -1
          8 September 2023
          It is clear to anyone even remotely technically literate that photography alone is not enough. But for you, this is a revelation.
    2. +1
      8 September 2023
      Quote: Arkadich
      So what kind of detection system is this? If a soldier saw or heard, he would send a smartphone with an installed program, but what if he didn’t see it?

      Then his neighbor will see him. Or a neighbor's neighbor. The system compensates for the low operating range of a single “detection station” by the number of these stations and their density.

      What kind of traffic will there be if a UAV flies, say, along the defense line? smile
      1. +1
        8 September 2023
        What kind of traffic will there be if a UAV flies, say, along the defense line?

        And what a joy it will be for the enemy to crash into areas of increased traffic.
        1. -1
          8 September 2023
          I would like to upset your harmonious idle reasoning. In addition to communication via a SIM card with a fairly strong radio signal, which can be turned off, smartphones and tablets also have WiFi and Bluetooth with a lower signal strength, which are more difficult to detect. And even there is the possibility of communication via usb cable.
  6. +5
    8 September 2023
    The main advantage of the “Catch a Drone” system is its relative cheapness
    Well, yes. Everything else is just shortcomings.
    1. The system does not allow you to reliably build a UAV route - there may not be people at the desired point.
    2. The system cannot guarantee coverage of a given area - in some places there are simply no passers-by.
    3. The system is waiting for "ddos attacks" - when the drone is seen in the city, all the server's power will go to the miscalculation of a single device.
    4. The system is not applicable near the front line - the operation of mobile phones will reveal the location of the entire military group.
    5. The system is unsuitable for tracking high-altitude and fast low-flying drones - the former simply will not be visible in the photo, the latter will not have time to be photographed.
    And so on. Brad in general.
    1. 0
      8 September 2023
      Brad, in general.

      It looks like it. However, the idea can be called “outsourced air defense” laughing It can be useful for tracking UAV attacks in the rear, mainly terrorist ones, where there is simply no conventional air defense; you can’t extend it over the entire country. This method is not suitable for LBS.
  7. +1
    8 September 2023
    By the way, I remember there were articles about our counter-battery systems based on smartphones, on a similar principle....
    And silent.
    Who knows how she is doing?
  8. 0
    8 September 2023
    To turn off this program, it is enough to destroy the nodes of cellular operators.
  9. Cat
    8 September 2023
    The idea looks extremely dubious, especially for the database area, where Internet coverage may be absent or extremely limited, and generally tracked by the enemy. In addition, it is doubtful that there will be a sufficient number of personnel with smartphones equipped with this software in the UAV’s flight path for the server to collect reliable statistics. From what distance can you see a small drone in the sky even during the day in clear weather? Maximum kilometer if vision is 1. What if you are in an urban area, in a forest, in the mountains, etc.?
    Something tells me that it’s time to return to acoustic locators, known since WW1, but on a new element base, of course, and tie them into a network.
    1. 0
      8 September 2023
      Your reasoning looks dubious regarding the lack of cellular coverage. Just yesterday an article was published by Murza, where he describes the use of standard civilian communications by the Armed Forces of Ukraine for military purposes. So he says that they use standard cellular dishes in pairs, almost like radio relay lines, as base stations distributing a WiFi signal. Smartphones and tablets can work via WiFi without SIM cards.
      1. 0
        8 September 2023
        Quote: Sergey Alexandrovich
        almost like radio relay lines, as base stations with WiFi signal distribution. Smartphones and tablets can work via WiFi without SIM cards.

        In this case, would information about visual contact with the UAV be useful? If base station coordinates are used, detail will suffer. If data from GPS modules in smartphones is used, then on the LBS these coordinates can be greatly distorted by electronic warfare equipment.
        Still, this system was designed for the rear. The military tested it, but this was simply because they developed it.
        1. The following technical solutions are possible:
          - smartphone coordinates;
          - angle of inclination of the smartphone to the object;
          - data from smartphone sensors about its movement during shooting;
          - raw data of the entire GPS data stream;
          - photographs of an object in a series.
          Organizing local communication in cellular communication standards of the 2,3,4nd, XNUMXrd, and XNUMXth generations, either according to the principles of cellular communication or in the form of relay communication without the participation of cellular operators with the organization of wi-fi is not a problem; on the Internet you can find a lot of information on creating your own autonomous base station, which would like to understand the circuit diagram. And cell phone companies have a large pile of cars with mobile base stations to provide communication in problem areas or circumstances.
  10. 0
    9 September 2023
    Optical direction finding of an object as a principle is quite original, but crude.
  11. +1
    October 12 2023
    KMC is quite obvious that for direction finding of drones, the GPS coordinates of the smartphone, the time and direction of shooting are used. This data can be transmitted both via the Internet and SMS. It is possible to use a microphone to determine the type of drone and the speed of its departure/approach.

    The entire system is designed not against FPV drones and other little things, but against Geraniums, which are visible/audible several kilometers away.

    In an active combat zone, you cannot rely on the ZhPS, but the fighter himself can probably indicate his approximate coordinates and bearing.

    As for flying in drone photo fighters, this is nonsense, on the LBS the enemy already knows that you are sitting in these trenches, so why does he not need these coordinates, he already knows them.

    Nevertheless, if only soldiers have this program, then it is quite useless, but if a huge number of civilians have it, then geraniums flying around Kiev/large Ukrainian drones flying around Moscow can be quite effectively detected. Modern neural networks are quite capable of identifying from a sufficiently large array of such data both individuals who deliberately enter false data and technical errors in coordinates/bearing.

    And if such a system works, then it will make sense to have small interceptor drones with a jet engine and camera guidance using a neural network - the type of drone, its color, noise profile, etc. have already been collected from civilian smartphones, which will allow them not to shoot down their drones/planes/helicopters.
  12. -1
    November 2, 2023
    Americans cannot be so naive, as the author describes, that instead of confronting the enemy, they take the last photo of their lives.
  13. +1
    November 2, 2023
    Such problems should be solved by electronic reconnaissance and passive radars like the Kolchuga radar.
  14. 0
    December 5 2023
    “When an unmanned aerial vehicle is detected, a soldier or intelligence officer must take a photo of it through the CARPE Dronvm application.”

    I remembered the joke.
    - What kind of weed is this, grandma?
    - This is weed for cockroaches.
    - How does it work?
    - If you catch a cockroach, hit its ass with this grass!
  15. 0
    January 1 2024
    Why do they send photos and not videos?

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