Can Drones be detected by Radar?

Drones have a wide range of applications, thanks to advanced technology. You can use a drone recreationally and commercially. However, drones are prone to flyaways, damages, and collisions if not appropriately handled. Previously, radars would not detect drones, but today, they are equipped to perform the detection function.

Can Drones be detected by Radar

A radar system emits radiofrequency waves in short pulses. When the signal passes through an object, such as a drone, it reflects or produces an echo. The radar antenna captures the movement and amplifies it to detect the nature of the object. In this article, we will talk about how a radar system detects drones. Read on!

How Radars Detect Drones?

Not all radar systems have the ability to detect drones. Research shows that high-resolution radars are used to detect and track drones. A radar system scans the sky to identify reflections or changes to detect movements.

Once a signal interferes with an object, the antenna captures the reflection. The system then compares the echo or reflection to already recorded data for drone characterization. There are various ways a radar system detects drones. For example, a high-resolution radar system detects drones by sound, video, radio waves, and thermal.

Detection by Sound

Drones usually make high-pitched sounds similar to the helicopters’ buzzing sounds. These sounds have lower frequencies or wavelengths than helicopters. Because drones make unique sounds, specific radar systems can identify and track them.

Bear in mind that even some high-resolution radar systems fail to identify the drone by sound. One reason is the lower frequencies of the sound that the drone produces. The other reason is the noise factor, especially in urban environments.

Wind noise makes it challenging for the radar systems’ microphones to function properly and detect the sound. A radar system likewise can’t detect drones programmed to fly unpowered.

Detection by Radio Wave

Drones use radio wave technology for communication. These devices use radio waves on specific frequencies called bands. Radiofrequency waves make a specific electromagnetic spectrum, allowing the drone to communicate with other devices.

A drone detection radar sends out a signal, which interferes with the radiofrequency waves produced by the drone. There occurs a reflection or echo when the signal collides with the radiofrequency waves.

The radar system receives the reflection and compares it to the database for drone characterization, direction detection, and distance measurements. Some radar systems send their radio signals, listens to the echo, and analyze it to detect drones.

Detection by Video

Although a radar system can detect small drones by video, this method has certain drawbacks. For example, the camera can view or record a drone flying at a distance of 350 feet. Sometimes, it is hard for the camera to differentiate between drones and birds.

A simple radar system with cameras can’t detect drones accurately. The reason is the radar system considers everything in the sky as drones. That’s why companies have developed high-resolution radar systems with artificial intelligence capabilities and machine learning algorithms. These systems can differentiate between birds and drones.

A bird’s flight has more random patterns than a drone’s flight. Although advanced radars with high-level computer algorithms can detect drones by video, the problem occurs when they encounter some birds that stay steady in the air. For example, seagulls maintain a stable flight, meaning these birds can be mistaken for drones by the radar system.

Thermal Detection

Most high-end drones come with unique thermal cameras, which translate heat or thermal energy into visible light. The purpose of thermal cameras is to detect and analyze a particular scene or object. The question is: how a radar system performs thermal detection?

Radar uses a thermal detection system to detect recreational drones if they fly within a range of 350 feet. However, this method is practical or useful when a drone produces more thermal energy.

We think this isn’t an effective method to detect a drone because most drones do not generate high thermal energy or frequency. Because drones are equipped with electric motors covered in plastic material, it becomes difficult for radar to detect them.

Final Words

High-resolution radar systems can detect drones in various ways, as mentioned above. A Radar system that detects and tracks drones is beneficial in terms of recovering a lost drone. However, some people consider it a breach of privacy or interference with their autonomy.