Drone flying over a city -Cranfield University takes part in project to protect drone communications UASAS press release image

Drone security project to secure the future of unmanned flight

Cranfield University has partnered with ANGOKA and Connected Places Catapult in a project to support and protect the future of drones and autonomous flying vehicles.

This project has been awarded funding from UK Research and Innovation’s Future Flight Challenge, which is part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. The aim to revolutionise aviation and drone usage.

Dr Saba Al-Rubaye, senior lecturer in Autonomous and Connected Systems and project lead at Cranfield University, said:

“We’re very pleased to be working with ANGOKA and the Connected Places Catapult on this exciting project to protect communication systems for controlling drones in flight and ensure they are able to safely complete their missions, while also protecting the environments around them.

“There is huge scope for drones and unmanned aerial vehicles to transform air transport activities and services, this project will help to harness that potential in a safe and secure way.”

Drones can be used to deliver goods and medicine

Drones are poised to become ubiquitous devices – they do not require runways, can be small and agile, and can hover over and survey areas that might be too risky for humans.

Delivery of goods and medicine, search and rescue and infrastructure, agricultural and environmental monitoring are a few of many use cases that could propel drones into everyday life.

However, there needs to be a way to ensure that the communication crucial to controlling and flying the drones is protected.

Without this key element, drones are at risk of being hacked and hijacked, endangering not only the mission of the drone, but the environment around it. Securing drone communication ensures that national infrastructure, such as airports and mobile towers, is also protected.

ANGOKA, a Belfast Internet of Things (IoT) cybersecurity start-up, said it will be building upon its work in the NCSC Cyber Accelerator in terms of authentication and identity management for drones and IoT devices.

Yuri Andersson, ceo of ANGOKA, said:

“Securing the communication of drones and unmanned vehicles will have a great impact across industries, from logistics to emergency response.

“We are excited to lead on this innovative project with world-class partners that will pave the way for safe and ubiquitous drone usage.”

Mark Westwood, chief technology officer at Connected Places Catapult, said:

“With drones being set to become part of everyday life, one of the essential components is highly reliable and resilient security and authentication systems to ensure safe use.

“We are looking forward to being part of a project which will increase the confidence in drone technology and support the growth of a valuable market sector.”

The Unmanned Aircraft Systems Authentication System (UASAS) project brings together these three collaborators to create an authentication system that will provide a trusted identification service for drone usage.

This system aims to protect communications from potentially devastating cyberattacks. Trusted identification will allow organisations to ensure that drones are flying in the right zones and without adverse effects to other parties, increasing overall confidence in drone technology.