With an aim to alleviate rising concerns about the usage of drones in the country, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurated India’s first Drone Forensic Lab and Research Centre on Friday.
Kerala Police became the first state police department in the country to create and operate such a facility, and it would be done through a public-private partnership.
With the recent downing of a drone by the BSF in Jammu and Kashmir, as well as drone attacks in the Middle East and the Gulf, drones have emerged as a lethal weapon for precision attacks.
Drones have presented the police with a new set of challenges. Criminals could use them for attacks, assassinations, terror, surveillance, smuggling contraband goods, spying on others, peering inside high-rise apartments, and listening in on conversations through audio sensors.
While speaking at the event, Vijayan said that there is information that anti-national forces are using drones for a variety of destructive activities such as spying, smuggling, and terrorism.
He also mentioned the recent terrorist drone strike on the Jammu airport.
“It is now posing serious challenges to various security agencies, including the police. In this context, the Kerala Police Department is establishing a lab-turned-research centre,” he said.
The new facility would not only be used for the detection of unauthorised drones, but also for the production of aerial vehicles in response to police demands to aid in day-to-day policing, according to the Chief Minister.
Understanding the threat posed by these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), Kerala Police has been working on drones for the past two years, and have extensively used drones during the Kerala floods and for law enforcement.
The Drone Forensic Lab & Research Centre under Cyberdome will be housed in the SAP Campus at Peroorkada for the time being.
Manoj Abraham, Additional Director General of Police, Thiruvananthapuram Range who is also the ADGP for the State Crime Records Bureau and is the nodal officer for CyberDrome, stated that this lab-cum-research centre will investigate both the utility and threat aspects of a drone. The Kerala Police Department’s Cyberdome is a technological research and development centre.
“While analysing a drone at the research centre, we’ll look into its origin, see its utility value such as using it for policing, and devise anti-drone mechanisms to check its misuse, as we saw in the case of drone activities at the border,” Abraham said.
Salient Features Of The Newly Inaugurated Labs
The Drone Forensic Lab will, first and foremost, have all of the necessary tools to do the forensic examination on any drone or parts of drones retrieved from any location, and will quickly offer information such as identification, make, features, battery, and capabilities.
Dissection of the software and hardware, including networking details, will also be retrieved via the device’s storage/memory card. A captured drone’s GPS module can be analysed, as well as the locations the drone has visited and its operational history.
The Drone Research Lab — This will be a research facility dedicated to developing new types of custom drones and autonomous flying devices to meet the needs of the police force. Drones that can transport payloads, crisis management equipment, life-saving equipment, surveillance drones, VIP security drones, and other drones will be built in collaboration with our partners.
These drones will be equipped with police sirens, dome lights, and loudspeakers to meet our crowd control and security needs. These items will be adopted by Kerala Police in the near future, and they will be extremely beneficial for VIP security, near airports, and highly protected zones, among other applications.
Anti-Drone Capabilities– It is also intended to build a Mobile Anti-Drone Device that will be mounted on a police jeep and equipped with radar to aid in the detection of drones flying within a range of 3-5 kilometres. It will also be equipped with drone-neutralizing technologies. This will be developed in-house with the help of our partners and members of the Kerala Drone Association.