Science And Technology

‘Aerial Dragnet’ Now In Effect DARPA Launches Program To Monitor Drone Traffic In Cities

Written by JayWill7497


The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has introduced an “Aerial Dragnet” program to fight potential threats presented by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), more commonly identified as drones.

Air traffic in the United States is thoroughly monitored by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); having said that, the usage of drones in the country is still remarkably unregulated. The prices of drones happen to be reducing and their effortless availability is increasing the popularity of these aircraft.

Authorities think that drones can present security threats particularly to urban regions. A variety of sophisticated drones are taking to the skies each day but there are no systems in place to keep track of these drones.

To address the concern, DARPA is establishing the Aerial Dragnet program, which will track UAVs at low altitude.

“Commercial websites currently exist that display in real time the tracks of relatively high and fast aircraft-from small general aviation planes to large airliners-all overlaid on geographical maps as they fly around the country and the world,” affirms Jeff Krolik, program manager at DARPA. “We want a similar capability for identifying and tracking slower, low-flying unmanned aerial systems, particularly in urban environments.”

The program will comprise of a system of surveillance nodes, which will track low-flying and sluggish drones. These nodes can be drones or fixed instruments that could cover substantial locations in urban environments.

Currently there are systems that are capable to track UAVs in open and substantial areas, but these systems require clear line of sight, which can be challenging to handle in cities with tall buildings. DARPA wants a UAV tracking system that will never require a clear line of sight.

DARPA does not have any projects on how to put into action the dragnet. Having said that, the agency is looking at proposals from teams that have expertise in signal processing and sensors.


The Aerial Dragnet will allow DARPA to keep track of all UAVs, particularly the unknown ones, on a map. The DARPA announcement suggests that although the Aerial Dragnet program is focused at protecting military troops deployed overseas, the system could inevitably have civilian application for protecting metropolitan locations in the United States.

DARPA is organizing a Proposers Day on Sept. 26. Parties that are attracted in getting the contract are expected to submit their proposals by Nov. 12.

It remains to appear how rapidly DARPA is ready to find a solution and implement a UAV tracking system together with the Aerial Dragnet program.

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