Jul 02, 2012 09:02 PM EDT
University Researchers Successfully Hijack A Drone, Same Technique Used by Iran?
University of Texas researchers hijacked a surveillance drone in response to a $1,000 challenge issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Scientists at the University of Texas at Austin, headed by Professor Todd Humphreys, managed to build a spoofer to override the drone's pre-defined commands by sending stronger signals, reports Fox News.
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The spoofer cost three years and only $1,000 to build.
On June 25, the researchers successfully hijacked the drone, which is an unmanned areial vehicle, programmed with a series of GPS waypoints into its flight computer. During its flight, it veered off-course and changed direction, eventually plunging into the ground.
A safety pilot interceded before the crash and radioed the drone to pull up, said the report.
Spoofers are a big leap forward in technology, because they can manipulate navigation computers with false information as if it is real, according to Fox News.
Iran might have employed the same technique when the nation caught a largely undamaged American drone last year, according to BBC.
"In 5 or 10 years you have 30,000 drones in the airspace... Each one of these could be a potential missile used against us," Humphreys said.
"What if you could take down one of these drones delivering FedEx packages and use that as your missile?" Humphreys continued.
"That's the same mentality the 911 attackers had."