When drones pose a threat...

Defense against unmanned aerial vehicles for BOS (AMBOS)

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UAVs have opened up a new threat dimension in the air and confront security authorities with new challenges.
© Fraunhofer FKIE
Critical infrastructures are among the threat scenarios identified for drone attacks.

Easy and inexpensive access to drones has opened up new attack options for criminals and terrorists. The scenario of an approaching drone has therefore become a delicate matter for officials responsible for security at major events and potentially for the protection of tens of thousands of people in a confined area. In a matter of moments authorities have to make the call: is the drone approaching peacefully or not?

To make the right decision, authorities first need information support: What type of drone is it? Is it carrying a payload? And last but not least: Should the drone be allowed to continue flying? Or would it be better to take countermeasures against it? To this end, officials must be given tools that are proportionate to the task at hand.

The »AMBOS« German-Austrian joint project was commissioned to provide solutions for these tasks. Since February 2017, twelve partners from science and industry have been working on a system that identifies drones, analyzes their risk potential and, if necessary, carries out counter measures. As future users of the system, five German security agencies, including the Federal Criminal Police Office and the Federal Police, are associated as partners with the bi-national research project. »AMBOS« is funded by the German »Research for Civil Security« program of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Austrian »Security Research Program – KIRAS« of the Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT).

© Fraunhofer FKIE
Architecture of the »AMBOS« drone detection and defense system
© Fraunhofer FKIE
The detection modalities implemented within the framework of »AMBOS« include acoustic direction finding, location and classification of drones using microphone arrays.

In the context of »AMBOS« existing scientific approaches are extended in concrete terms with a view to real-world application scenarios for agencies with civil security tasks (BOS). Needed methods, which so far have been lacking, are being developed from scratch. The aim of the project is to develop a demonstrator that significantly extends the functional range of systems already available on the market.

The planned solution will detect aerial threats using four different sensor modalities, including radio, acoustics, electro-optics/infrared, and radar. Each of these modalities has specific advantages and disadvantages. The aim of the sensor data fusion researched and developed by Fraunhofer FKIE is to use intelligent algorithmic combination to emphasize the advantages of the individual sensor systems while eliminating their disadvantages. This is intended to reduce the false alarm rate of the system and increase the detection rate.

This merged sensor data will then be combined to create an ergonomically designed situational picture. This picture will assist security personnel in determining which active intervention measure to take depending on the situation and the level of threat. Intervention options range from jamming of the radio remote control and signals of the satellite navigation systems to disrupting on-board electronics using high-power electro magnetics (HPEM), to intercepting the drone with a net.

© Fraunhofer FKIE
»AMBOS« provides security authorities with reliable support in assessing the risk posed by an approaching drone as well as effective measures for defending against it.

The project is expected to result in a very robust sensor system, characterized by improved detection performance, source direction-finding/location capabilities and distance information. The solution will also be able to classify drones with regard to special deployment scenarios. The optimization of the operational parameters for the entire range of effectors envisaged in the project will significantly enhance the performance of »AMBOS« compared with existing approaches to drone defense.

The overall system is also modular and can be flexibly configured ranging from a minimal configuration for detecting approaching drones to equipment with multimodal intervention capability. It features an open system design and will allow integration of future sensors and effectors.


  • Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing and Ergonomics FKIE, Wachtberg
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT, Oldenburg
  • Berlin School of Economics and Law
  • Elettronica GmbH, Meckenheim
  • Diehl Defence GmbH & Co. KG, Röthenbach
  • H.P. Marketing & Consulting Wüst GmbH, Reinfeld


Associated partners

  • Federal Criminal Police Office, Wiesbaden
  • Bavarian State Criminal Police Office, Munich
  • State Police Baden-Württemberg, Göppingen
  • German Police University, Münster
  • German Federal Police, Potsdam



  • AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, Vienna
  • Frequentis AG, Vienna
  • CNS-Solutions & Support GmbH, Vienna
  • Inras GmbH, Linz
  • Austro Control Österreichische Gesellschaft für Zivilluftfahrt mbH, Vienna
  • JOANNEUM RESEARCH Forschungsgesellschaft mbH, Graz
  • Donau Universität Krems, Wiener Neustadt
  • Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior, Vienna
  • Austrian Ministry of Defence and Sports, Vienna
  • Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK), Vienna


»With AMBOS we're making a key contribution to strengthening the future security architecture.«

Hans Peter Stuch, Coordinator AMBOS Research Network

© Fraunhofer FKIE
© Fraunhofer FKIE
© Fraunhofer FKIE

Final system demonstration, 21. -23. May 2019, Mosbach/Germany