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Potential of lidar sensors for the detection of UAVs

: Hammer, Marcus; Hebel, Marcus; Borgmann, Björn; Laurenzis, Martin; Arens, Michael


Turner, M.D. ; Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers -SPIE-, Bellingham/Wash.:
Laser Radar Technology and Applications XXIII : 15-19 April 2018, Orlando, Florida, United States
Bellingham, WA: SPIE, 2018 (Proceedings of SPIE 10636)
Paper 1063605, 8 S.
Conference "Laser Radar Technology and Applications" <23, 2018, Orlando/Fla.>
Fraunhofer IOSB ()
3D object detection; 360° LiDAR scan; UAV detection; UAV tracking; scanline analysis

The number of reported incidents caused by UAVs, intentional as well as accidental, is rising. To avoid such incidents in future, it is essential to be able to detect UAVs. LiDAR systems are well known to be adequate sensors for object detection and tracking. In contrast to the detection of pedestrians or cars in traffic scenarios, the challenges of UAV detection lie in the small size, the various shapes and materials, and in the high speed and volatility of their movement. Due to the small size of the object and the limited sensor resolution, a UAV can hardly be detected in a single frame. It rather has to be spotted by its motion in the scene. In this paper, we present a fast approach for the tracking and detection of (low) flying small objects like commercial mini/micro UAVs. Unlike with the typical sequence -track-after-detect-, we start with looking for clues by finding minor 3D details in the 360° LiDAR scans of scene. If these clues are detectable in consecutive scans (possibly including a movement), the probability for the actual detection of a UAV is rising. For the algorithm development and a performance analysis, we collected data during a field trial with several different UAV types and several different sensor types (acoustic, radar, EO/IR, LiDAR). The results show that UAVs can be detected by the proposed methods, as long as the movements of the UAVs correspond to the LiDAR sensor’s capabilities in scanning performance, range and resolution. Based on data collected during the field trial, the paper shows first results of this analysis.