Unmanned Experts supports FAA program to counter rogue drones


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) this week announced an expansion of their Counter-UASPathfinder Initiative (Pathfinder 4) with the addition of two new ‘drone detection’ companies and the first complete Detect-Track-Identify-Defeat system in the form of the Liteye Anti-UAS Defense System, or AUDS. Under its new Cooperative Research & Development Agreement (CRADA) with the FAA, Colorado-based Liteye will deploy its AUDS platform to various airports across the country over the summer, and trials will be run to test its effectiveness in ‘defending’ controlled airspace from rogue small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS). To support the trials, Liteye has engaged Unmanned Experts, Inc., to provide supporting sUAS flights and system integration.

Liteye’s AUDS (pictured above in set-up trials last year) combines world-leading radar, thermal and electro-optical sensor technologies to detect, track and identify sUAS out to 8km from the control console. Its two-person crew is able to coordinate responses with air traffic control agencies, law enforcement ground parties and ‘friendly’ UAS to negate any threat posed by the unauthorized drone / drones. Should it be deemed necessary, and if certain Rules of Engagement (ROE) have been met, AUDS has a number of ‘non-kinetic’ defeat options that can be activated to return the factor sUAS to a safe area or land it in place. Although this CRADA is part of a research program, AUDS is considered fully operational, or TRL9, and is already deployed to protect critical infrastructure in Europe and South East Asia.

Deploying a system to interact with potential sUAS threats requires expertise in the UAS environment. Thus Liteye has partnered with fellow Colorado company Unmanned Experts, Inc. (UMEX), a field-leading team of sUAS subject matter experts and flight crews (details below). UMEX has worked with Liteye over the past year to develop AUDS Concepts of Operations (CONOPS) and training packages. UMEX is also providing a ‘Red Team’ capability to the group, with their FAA-approved SUAS operators flying numerous fixed and rotary-wing sUAS types at the AUDS test facility to trial the counter-drone solution. An ongoing program of Red Team trials are scheduled to ensure that AUDS is able to keep pace with rapid technology advances in commercial drone capabilities.

“Knowing the characteristics and performance of typical sUAS models,” said UMEX CEO Keven Gambold, “we can quickly plan and execute a variety of flight profiles in the AUDS environment, providing a very challenging but efficient trial opportunity for Liteye as they demonstrate their technology.”

Another example of applying sUAS technology to the AUDS trials is the recent addition of the Aeryon Labs SkyRanger multi-rotor aircraft as a ‘friendly’ intelligence gathering asset to AUDS. UMEX, as a SkyRanger operator and Aeryon Labs training partner, has helped Aeryon integrate its hardware and software into the AUDS system, such that the SkyRanger can be deployed from the AUDS platform (currently only within VLOS, but BVLOS being studied) to investigate suspicious ground and air activity and assist ground teams in locating unauthorized sUAS operators and their aircraft. Field trials are ongoing.

“The concept of interfering with, inhibiting or even ‘knocking down’ airborne devices stirs many visceral emotions, but the increasing threat posed by this new technology cannot be ignored,” said UMEX CGO Bill Cossoff. “With this CRADA, the FAA and its partner agencies are being pro-active in exploring the technical, regulatory, legal and even ethical aspects of a ‘counter-drone’ system operating in U.S. National airspace.”

Unmanned Experts Inc. ( is a Colorado corporation providing world class UAS Managed Services, Consultancy, and Training. Our team of professionals has over 25,000 flying hours on UAS platforms and over 35,000 flying hours on manned aircraft. Unmanned Experts is staffed by UAS and Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) pilots, operators and maintainers, as well as specialists with expertise in all areas of unmanned operations, providing dependable; approachable and affordable mentorship in the UAS sector. UMEX is FAA-approved for numerous Section 333 exemptions, allowing for commercial operations of more than 10 different aircraft types within a growing fleet. UMEX has highly trained and experienced operations teams available for tasking and travel at very short notice. Ops crews are OSHA-10 trained, and the company has undergone ISNetWorld Certification.

Similar Posts