These days, drones are an omnipresent sight in the skies. From delivering food, to supporting Police operations during COVID-19, the proliferation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has contributed to many use cases across a spectrum of industries. But when drones land in the hands of the wrong persons, it can be a serious threat to public safety. Take for instance, on 18 June 2019, several unauthorised drones intruded into Singapore’s restricted airspace and disrupted operations for about ten hours. 38 flights were delayed and one of the runways had to be closed intermittently.
Rogue drones have not just caused near-accidents; they have been used to courier drugs and contrabands to prisoners and even used in assassination attempts or incidents around the world. Not only do illegal drone flights cause financial loss, they can be potentially dangerous to lives and properties.
So what can be done to detect and counter these rogue drones?
One innovative solution is the XENTINEL Mobile Response Vehicle – a purpose-built anti-drone mobile response vehicle.
A light and nimble vehicle platform, the XENTINEL is equipped with capabilities to detect drones at good standoff distance, thereby allowing officers to have adequate time for effective interdiction. The vehicle only requires one officer to operate it and is designed to be ready within minutes to be swiftly deployed. This is a quantum leap from the current method of countering drones.
“The challenge given to us was how could we perform counter-drone operations more effectively with just one personnel? Using a combination of cutting-edge technologies, we developed a mobile and rapid deployable system that was capable of countering rogue drones effectively. Using state-of-the art technology, the systems on board the vehicle can detect and interdict drones at far greater range than a human operator. The vehicle is easy-to-operate and lean-on-manpower design. In every sense, the XENTINEL is a force multiplier to our counter-drone capabilities,” explains Eric Chua, Director of Land Systems Centre of Expertise (CoE) at HTX and co-Project Team Leader of the XENTINEL project.
The team from Land Systems CoE collaborated with the Robotics, Automation, and Unmanned Systems (RAUS) CoE, Singapore Police Force (SPF), DSO, and ST Engineering to conceptualise, design and integrate the required sensors into the vehicle platform.
Key Features of XENTINEL:
- Equipped with different sensors to detect presence of drone signals and disrupt rogue drone operations;
- Equipped with cameras to provide visual confirmation of the drones;
- Intuitive user interface;
- Modular subsystems allowing for easy maintenance.
Director of RAUS CoE and Co-Project Team Leader, Cheng Wee Kiang says that this project cements Singapore’s standing and commitment to safety and security using science and technology. “The development of the XENTINEL sets a new benchmark for delivering full spectrum counter drone capabilities to the Home Team. The capabilities contribute significantly to addressing the evolving security needs. This original capability has proven to be superior in application, as the development and deployment is meticulously customised and optimised for Singapore’s unique operating landscape.”
Some of the project members with XENTINEL (Photo: HTX)
For the excellent teamwork, dedication to duty, operational efficiency, and integration of innovative technologies, the Xentinel project team was recently presented with the Minister for Home Affairs National Day Award.
In the next few months, the XENTINEL will be qualified for roadworthiness and ready for trials with the SPF.