Interview with Embry–Riddle & Drone Defense Systems LLC on commercialize counter-drone technology helps prevent unauthorized drones

Houbing Song and Sotirios George Kaminis

Dr. Houbing Song & Sotirios George Kaminis
Representatives of Embry-Riddle and Drone Defense Systems LLC

In this post, My Dear Drone is excited to interview both Embry-Riddle and Drone Defense Systems LLC simultaneously on counter-drone technology. Dr. Houbing Song and Sotirios George Kaminis will be answering our questions representing their respective entities.

The collaboration between Embry-Riddle and Drone Defense Systems LLC to commercialize counter-drone technology helps prevent unauthorized drones. Unlike other anti-drone systems that disable or destroy drones, Embry-Riddle’s technology suggests an affordable, safe method to neutralize rogue drones without needing to force them to crash-land or shoot them down.

Learn more from how they got started with counter-drone to their advice for those thinking about implementing the system. Let’s get started!

Introduce yourself. What services are you offering?

Answer from Dr. Houbing Song, assistant professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering and the Director of the Security & Optimization for Networked Globe Laboratory (SONG Lab) in the College of Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Florida.

I received my Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering through the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, in August 2012, and my M.S. degree in civil engineering through the University of Texas, El Paso, Texas, in December 2006. I joined Embry-Riddle in August 2017. The goal of the SONG Lab is to advance education and research through discovery and innovation in cyber-physical systems (CPS), that are engineered systems which depend upon, and built from, the seamless integration of physical and cyber components. The SONG Lab develops CPS solutions for real-world issues in association with the government agencies and aviation and aerospace industry. Embry-Riddle is called “the Harvard of the sky.” The SONG Lab strives to offer the best solutions to real-world problems in the sky. Our new counter-drone technology is an example of that work.

Answer from Sotirios George Kaminis, CEO and founder of Drone Defense Systems, LLC.

I am an entrepreneur and businessman, raised in a family of business leaders, with several years of experience in the International Maritime and Defense industries. Six years ago, I predicted the evolution of the commercial drone market. I identified the risk that drones could pose in the hands of the wrong people, and I decided to act upon my concerns. Starting in 2010, I set up a team utilizing recourses from my existing business, with the sole task to research the counter-drone market. The disappointing results we got prompted me to create the best possible solutions to address the threat, which was then still obscured. A new business entity had to be created, and I thought what better place to do it than in the United States? In 2016, I decided to relocate, specifically to Daytona Beach, Florida, to establish Drone Defense Systems LLC (DDS) as a textbook example of a U.S. startup.

Our initial goal was and remained to transfer our existing counter-drone technology to the United States and set up manufacturing in Volusia County (Daytona Beach). Being an aeronautical engineering student at Embry-Riddle in the 1980s and having lived in Daytona during my youth certainly influenced my decision. I quickly identified in Embry-Riddle, an extremely invaluable partner, and so did my son Angelos, who is now attending the university himself.

The services we offer include scalable, intelligent, autonomous systems that can accurately detect multiple drones and stop them dead in their tracks, period. Our technology was until now strictly intrusive and of a military nature. Integrating our new technology, licensed by Embry-Riddle, in our platform, will give us the unique capability to provide counter-drone systems for every civilian application as well.

Tell us the reason behind Drone Defense Systems LLC and Embry-Riddle agreement to commercialize counter-drone technology?

Dr. Song:

Since February 2017, counter-drone has been among the main research areas of the SONG Lab. Our preliminary results on counter-drone technology were published in IEEE Communications Magazine in April 2018. In October 2018, Prof. Susan Davis Allen, associate dean to research in Embry-Riddle’s College of Engineering, recognized my group’s work on counter-drone technology. She introduced my students and me to Drone Defense Systems’ CEO & Founder Sotirios George Kaminis. With Dr. Allen and my students, George and I had our first meeting on November 8, 2018.

SONG Lab attended 37th IEEE IPCCC

Who are you servicing? What types of industries/people have you noticed are most keen on counter-drone technology?

Dr. Song:

We are serving public safety, government, and military professionals who are most interested in counter-drone technology.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prohibits operating drones near other aircraft, especially near airports, over groups of people, public events, or stadiums full of people, and near emergencies such as fires or hurricane recovery efforts. Public safety and government entities enforce these airspace restrictions.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Air Force are interested in defeating drones attacking a high-value convoy on the move.

Mr. Kaminis:

Being able to address both military and civilian applications extends our reach to all markets, ranging from a private residence to the Daytona International Speedway, to a power plant or a cruise ship, to a military outpost in the middle of a desert, to the U.S. White House.

How does your system work in a practical scenario? How it can distinguish quadcopters from birds?

Dr. Song:

Our technology runs on the wireless sensors distributed network to collect acoustic signals. Our team created a computer-based brain called neural network, which is continually learning and as a result getting smarter. Once the system verifies a drone, acoustic sensors, operating in duo with beacon receivers, send details to the control center.

If the quadcopter is in an unauthorized trip, the system makes use of pattern-recognition methods to decipher drone’s video-streaming medium and disrupt the broadcast using a warning note. For each quadcopter, the acoustic pattern may be a bit unique, but we could tell them aside, just as anybody can differentiate between the noise of a crow and a songbird.

drones cargo

When compared with other anti-drone solutions, which are the benefits of technology designed by Houbing Song?

Dr. Song:

Compared with other types of anti-drone solutions which destroy drones, the advantage of our counter-drone technology is to deal with unauthorized drones efficiently, while ensuring low price per engagement and minimal collateral damage. We don’t merely want to disable or destroy unauthorized drones.

Mr. Kaminis:

Existing military-grade solutions are intrusive to communications, and depending on the system, destructive to the threat. Our new technology is not.

What are the shortcomings and challenges of your product? How are you planning to rectify, address, and improve it?

Dr. Song:

Under the new licensing agreement among Drone Defense Systems and Embry-Riddle, we are now going to refine our concept and follow the steps of the commercialization process as set by DDS. Currently, we are refining our technology to improve scalability.

How do you believe using drones (aka unmanned aerial vehicles) to take aerial photographs will impact the privacy of people?

Mr. Kaminis:

As the Drone Defense Systems / Embry-Riddle partnership evolves, we will be adding features to our systems that will provide for deactivation of its camera feature, if desired.

More broadly, Embry-Riddle and Drone Defense Systems share a desire to consider all ramifications of any new technology and to proceed responsibly. University experts have frequently explored the issue of balancing the good that drones can do – whether they are helping law enforcement find missing senior citizens or supporting first responders following a disaster – with public concerns regarding privacy. The beautiful thing about this new counter-drone technology is that it is a reliable solution to the risks posed by rogue drones.

no drone airport

What advice will you give for somebody who is starting on a counter-drone setup the first time?

Mr. Kaminis:

Drone Defense Systems is eager to work with partners in implementing this promising counter-drone technology.

What measures should a business do to safeguard itself against UAV-related financial burden?

Mr. Kaminis:

Too few insurance companies have offered input on this issue. Businesses must discuss their level of risk with company liability underwritings. We hope that potential business partners will reach out to us as well.

In the future, how much of an effect do you believe counter-drone systems will have in our daily lives?

Dr. Song:

With our new technology, unsafe and unauthorized drone operations will be minimized. It is helpful for the public.

Mr. Kaminis:

As both drone and counter-drone technologies evolve, I can see the counter-drone technology following the anti-virus model for development that was established in the computer realm. We have plans to develop relevant products, and the basic design exists today in our organization.

Flying Drone Over Group of People

Tell us regarding your existing technology called "intrusive." How it is unique from Embry-Riddle system?

Mr. Kaminis:

Our existing systems disrupt communications of the drone with its pilot, its GPS guidance signals, and so on. The current system can terminally destroy the electronics of the drone and any electronic equipment within range.

Why do drone pilots have to insure their quads? What are a few of the possible risks of flying an uninsured UAV?

Mr. Kaminis:

Insuring UAVs is good business and makes common sense.

What are a few of the fundamentals that new drone operators must know to safer airspace?

Dr. Song:

It is important to know when and where you can fly and how to register your drone. Please refer to https://www.faa.gov/uas/recreational_fliers/ and https://www.faa.gov/uas/commercial_operators/.

faa logo

You stated FAA is getting over 100 reports each month on unauthorized aircraft sightings. Do you think your technology can address these problems successfully with low costs?

Mr. Kaminis:

Our intelligent systems will detect and stop the threat. The counteraction is directly proportional to the value of the asset we are protecting. Our systems are scalable and multiple. We can engage as needed.

What is your favorite new remote control drone. What makes it very special?

Dr. Song:

One of my favorite beginner RC drones is Autel Robotics EVO because of its capability to record 4K at 60fps.

Mr. Kaminis:

My favorite drone is the drone managed lawfully and for lawful purposes.

Autel Robotics EVO Drone

Why do you think the existing tactics to combat rogue drones require out-of-the-box thinking or improvement? Are they becoming ineffective or is it to do with those systems cost?

Dr. Song:

Current strategies to combat rogue drones disable or destroy unauthorized drones. Minimizing collateral damage and cost per engagement must be taken into account. Also, low-cost and effective counter-drone technology is desired. It is why our counter-drone technology is so unique.

Mr. Kaminis:

I have seen eagles trained to attack a flying drone; I have noticed handheld drone guns trying to aim at a drone in the sky; I have noticed nets deployed to trap a drone; I have seen people shooting at a drone. The answer to your question is relative to the risk and the value of the asset. I can’t offer a value judgment on these various approaches. But, picture a scenario in which a major sports arena is attacked by weaponized drones simultaneously from different directions. How could we stop 50 or 100 drones using nets, eagles, or humans carrying heavy guns?

My company has previously created an impenetrable dome of protection that we call “DomeShield.” The technology places a shield over the target and can disable an unlimited number of drones. Our solutions are scalable, intelligent, and autonomous.

Drones are beginning to explode in the civilian market. What are a few reasons why UAV's have grown so much in the last few years?

Dr. Song:

Drones hold tremendous promise in numerous beneficial applications like providing support to search and rescue operations, medical supply and package delivery, airport bird strikes prevention, physical infrastructure inspection and monitoring, natural gas leakage detection, smart disaster/emergency response, personal services, agriculture support, and study and observation of severe weather phenomena including storms.

What are some areas where you have seen drones put to use ingeniously? What are a few recent developments which you are most interested in?

Dr. Song:

I have seen drones used innovatively in weather forecasting, insurance inspection, and Internet access, among other areas.

I am most excited about the use of drones to move commuters for avoiding congestion, and to deliver organs for transplantation.

Mr. Kaminis:

The delivery of human organs and medications is an exciting area of application.

drones transporting human organs

What are the dangers of not understanding the regulations when somebody is looking to fly a drone commercially?

Dr. Song:

Unauthorized drone operators might be subject to stiff fines and criminal charges, including possible jail time.

We learned Embry-Riddle submitted a U.S. patent request to this technology. Is it an indication for more achievement and a route to creating history?

Dr. Song:

Yes. We are on our way to making history!

Mr. Kaminis:

I have committed to a partnership between Drone Defense Systems and Embry-Riddle. The university is our outsourced R&D partner, which we selected not only because of the sharp minds and souls that power innovation there but also because of its capacity to understand business as I see it and as any businessman does. I have to thank Dr. Stephanie Miller of Embry-Riddle’s Research Park, who coordinated the process most efficiently and professionally. We are already making history.

Check out Embry-Riddle and Drone Defense Systems LLC on the web!

Check out Embry–Riddle & Drone Defense Systems LLC on the web!

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Interview With Embry riddle Drone Defense Systems LLC

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