Update: We're shipping! Also now accepting orders for October delivery at www.droneshield.org
DroneShield: A low-cost, easy-to-use device that alerts you to nearby drones.
DroneShield is a device that detects the presence of nearby drones (including RC helicopters, quadrotors, etc) and issues alerts via email, sms, and/or a flashing light. The goal is to help preserve your privacy from low-cost remote-control air vehicles with video cameras.
The DroneShield team consists of makers, engineers, and developers collaborating on a device that can detect small drones well before you can hear them. We have a collaboration website at www.droneshield.org with links to free software and hardware specifications. Free software and hardware specifications are free to download for do-it-yourself-ers. We also sell assembled devices at-cost.
How Does It Work?
DroneShield has a microphone that listens for sounds of drones. Each DroneShield contains a database of common drone acoustic signatures to reduce false alarms (IE ignores lawn mowers and leaf blowers) and in many cases the type of drone is also included in the alert.
Our initial target platform is the Raspberry Pi. Other components include a microphone, power supply plugs (also works with a micro-USB battery pack, not included). Wifi connectivity is required for email and SMS alerts. Signature database updates can be downloaded and updated via the RPi SD card.
What’s the Plan?
The goal of this campaign is to create a low-cost device that will help protect privacy against RC helicopters with video cameras; we already have a working prototype running on a laptop. This campaign will port that code to a small low-cost hardware platform that you can plug in and forget about. If you like you can periodically update the signatures of the drones we scan for, or even contribute your own signatures to the database.
Our goal is to port our existing code and database to the Raspberry Pi platform and bundle that with peripherals into a stand-alone product that can be operational right out of the box with absolutely no technical knowledge needed. The funds will be used to buy hardware in bulk (reducing prices) and the developers will donate their time to assemble the hardware and port the code. 50 units are needed to get the first price break in bulk discounts for many of our components.
We hope that there will be enough interest to justify further development to reduce costs in future generations; we believe ultimately we could get the cost down to the $20-range at scale. Future plans could include moving to an open-source 'sourceforge' type development environment and teaming with 3rd party hardware makers. We could also envision a smart-phone based platform for portable applications.
Our team has over 20 years of combined experience working on science and engineering projects including machine learning and acoustic signal processing. We have advanced degrees in engineering and computer science, including MIT and UMD graduates, and a proven track record of finishing projects on time and within budget for our customers.
Risks and Challenges
Any technology project will carry certain risks, and surprises can occur at any point in a project. We have done our best to mitigate and minimize the risks associated with porting the current laptop version to the Raspberry Pi platform. However, risks external to our work include:
- Smaller drones won’t make enough noise to be detected far enough away (hummingbird drones, for example)
- Background noise will reduce detection distance or increase false alarms
- New drones, home-made, or modified drones will sound different enough to not be detected in our database
- The system will have a maximum detection range that's a function of the signature, background noise, and how loud the drone is. Because of this, we expect the system to have difficulty detecting high-altitude drones.