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INSIGHTS

How to operate security drones when GPS is denied

How to operate security drones when GPS is denied
GPS may not be available everywhere and GPS-denied drones are integral to security surveillance projects in certain environments.
Drones are increasingly becoming an integral part of security surveillance systems. But while they can operate perfectly well in most environments, certain circumstances where GPS doesn't work could create problems. This is where GPS-denied drones become important.

For instance, when operating in the mining industry, critical infrastructure, and search and rescue operations in places like forests, GPS may not be reliable. If you are a security service provider who needs to offer drone surveillance in such areas, a GPS-denied drone is essential for you.

In February this year, the first test of a drone in a GPS-denied environment was successfully conducted in Yeruham, an Israeli special drone test zone that provided safe solutions for the navigation of flight 'beyond visual line of sight' (BVLOS). The test belonged to NAAMA, the Israeli drone delivery pilot program run by Israel's Ministry of Transport (MoT), Ayalon Highways, the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel (CAAI), and the Israel Innovation Authority (IAI).

Also read: A complete guide to industrial drones 

How does a GPS-denied drone work?

According to Zacc Dukowitz, Content Marketing Manager at Flyability, onboard visual sensors can help stabilize a drone while in flight, and obstacle avoidance sensors can provide a drone with reference points, allowing it to hover in place without GPS. These sensors can help the drone to determine critical information for staying stable and in the air, including altitude, location, and tilt.

"Another approach to supporting flying without GPS is the use of SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping), a system by which drones use visual and other sensors to map their surroundings in real-time, while in flight," Dukowitz added. "Some SLAM systems rely on 2D LiDAR, which may require the floor to be flat or horizontal. Other systems, like the one released last year by NT Robotics, use 3D LiDAR, which supports more complicated operations by allowing the drone to build a 3D map with complete 360-degree coverage."

Where to use GPS-denied drones?

There are several scenarios where GPS-denied drones can become helpful. Here we explore a few of them. Beyond these, it is important to understand that given the increasing number of GPS-reliant devices globally, the chances of GPS disruption are higher than before in any environment.

GPS-denied drones may also become a necessity if the drone is hacked and malicious actors try to take control of the device. Some experts also point out that GPS also becomes unreliable when there are incidents like solar flares.

Indoor and underground areas: When flying inside closed spaces like industrial boilers or storage tanks, relying on GPS signals may not be possible. Similarly, when used in places like mines that are underground, GPS-denied drones are essential.
Search and rescue: When looking for a missing person in a forest, the GPS signal can weaken if the drone is required to operate under tree cover. Similar considerations apply to other natural obstructions you might encounter while on a Search and Rescue mission.
Disaster sites: Rubble and other obstructions may get in the way of a GPS signal when operating at a disaster site. A drone that can work without the need for GPS is essential in such circumstances.

Integrating GPS-denied drones into your security system

GPS-denied drones can be a great addition to security surveillance in critical environments. Autonomous security drones are becoming popular among such customers as the machines can reach places that may be inaccessible or dangerous to manned guards 24/7. Empowering these drones to operate without the need for GPS will make your security system even more robust.


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