The first of the two winning projects is called SWADAR (SWarm ADvanced Detection And TRacking) and was proposed by the Centro Italiano Ricerche Aerospaziali (CIRA) based in Capua, Italy.

We asked Domenico Pascarella, Senior Researcher and Head of CIRA’s System and Infrastructure Security Laboratory, to explain and summarise his team’s project:
“SWADAR proposes a technological solution for drone-swarm tracking to provide military commanders with an operational picture of swarm attacks. It uses a defensive team of drones, which tracks the hostile swarm from different perspectives. Defensive drones are equipped with proximal sensors to achieve the required resolution and sensitivity. A coordination mechanism and an ad-hoc network ensure the cooperation of the defensive team to maintain optimal performance for tracking. A fusion of the drones’ views is also performed to provide the operator with the common operational picture and to assess swarming metrics, which are key indicators to establish the most effective counter-actions and to possibly automate the decision-making of mitigations. Moreover, the tracking solution is extended with the automated recognition of the swarm-attack scenario and with the learning of new swarming behaviours. This guarantees the adaptability of the system in the face of evolving attacks. In the end, the human-interpretability of recognition results is allowed by a module based on eXplainable Artificial Intelligence.

SWADAR aims at supplementing air defence systems by introducing a line of protection against intrusions of drone swarms within critical infrastructures, both in the military and the civil fields. The same concept may be applied also for the protection of mobile platforms (e.g., convoys of military vehicles). Moreover, SWADAR integrates and customises state-of-the-art technologies, provided by European stakeholders to secure the overall supply chain. For example, drone kits and sensors are produced by European providers. Also, the simulation equipment for the learning of swarming behaviours may represent a core asset for other defence activities.

Currently, a five-year roadmap is envisaged for the implementation of the SWADAR prototype according to an incremental lifecycle, which will release three versions with increasing capabilities. Follow-on activities are expected for the prototype engineering, too. These include the management of safety and cyber-security aspects, looking also at the possible insertion in civil environments (e.g., integration in national airspaces)”.


CIRA (Italian Aerospace Research Centre) is a company mainly in public ownership created in 1984. The Centre was founded with the aim of performing and promoting research and technological development in the fields of space and aeronautics and enabling Italian enterprises to compete on the international markets. CIRA has the biggest research facilities in the field of aerospace in Italy, with cutting-edge testing facilities and state-of-the-art laboratories.


Full-Duplex Radio Technology for Enhanced Defence Capabilities Against Drone Swarms

The second winning project is called ‘Full-Duplex Radio Technology for Enhanced Defence Capabilities Against Drone Swarms’ and was presented by Rantelon, an Estonian small to medium-sized company, in cooperation with Tampere University, Finland.

Karel Pärlin, an engineer at Rantelon, explains and summarises their winning project idea as follows:

“Amongst the principal methods for countering drones and drone swarms is to target the radio frequency (RF) broadcasts from drones and their ground control stations. That generally means detecting those RF broadcasts and subsequently interfering with the reception thereof. Ideally those tasks would take place simultaneously so as to retain situational awareness at all times and deliver the largest neutralisation impact through interference. However, carrying out electronic warfare (EW) operations, such as RF-based detection and neutralisation, in the same frequency band simultaneously is impossible with conventional radio technology. That is because EW equipment that intentionally interferes with any other wireless communication, is also at the same time blinded by that interference. In fact, that same limitation is also present in most other wireless applications that rely on transmitting and receiving information, e.g., civilian wireless local area and cellular networks.

Classically, this limitation is hidden from the end users by employing spectrum division methods that split the transmission and reception into either time slots or different frequency channels. Yet, by introducing full-duplex (FD) radio technology, which is able to cancel the interference that any radio inherently creates upon itself, this limitation can be removed. And FD radio technology is already proven on an academic level. For civilian applications, this simply means that FD radios will be able to provide a similar level of functionality with half of the spectrum resources that current radios use. That is a significant advantage considering that the RF spectrum is largely congested. For European defence applications, FD radios pave the way for combining different EW tasks simultaneously on the exact same frequency bands, perhaps resulting in truly multifunctional and cognitive radios. Counter-drone applications are just one of the examples of how such combinations allow us to deal better with threats in the RF spectrum – by at the same time enhancing situational awareness and neutralisation efficiency through simultaneous detection and neutralisation, amongst other combinations”.

Rantelon is an Estonian company specialised in developing and producing radio frequency (RF) electronics, including low level components and integrated systems, for a range of applications. The company provides solutions from civilian cellular and public safety networks to various signals intelligence and effector capabilities for the defence sector.

Tampere University – the winning project is joint work with assistant professor Taneli Riihonen’s team in the Unit of Electrical Engineering. They are currently pursuing research on full-duplex counter-drone and radio shield technologies with support from the Finnish Scientific Advisory Board for Defence and the Academy of Finland.

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