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Press Releases

Northeastern University’s Radio-Silent Drone Facility Provides Cyber-Security Testbed

Anechoic Chamber Helps Researchers Identify and Address Imminent Threats

Located in suburban Boston, Northeastern University’s Innovation Campus is home to the Kostas Research Institute, which fosters collaborative research in areas focused on issues related to homeland security and community aid. The university recently added a state-of-the-art facility to its campus for drone testing: the Kostas Research Institute/Northeastern University Expeditionary Cyber and Unmanned Aerial System Research and Development Facility. Funded by the United States Navy Office of Naval Research, the lab enables Northeastern and its industry partners to conduct tightly-controlled security testing on drones.

Northeastern University Drone Facility

Source: Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

With a futuristic aesthetic, the 50 foot by 50 foot by 22-foot-tall facility features 24 OptiTrack Prime 17W cameras in an anechoic chamber encased with a Faraday Cage. The anechoic fittings absorb sound and electromagnetic waves while the Faraday Cage prevents electromagnetic radiation from entering the space and the OptiTrack real-time tracking system provides low latency, high precision 6DoF tracking; this gives researchers an isolated environment for experimentation with sophisticated technology, creating a barrier from outside interference and also keeping experiments from affecting systems outside the facility.

As unmanned aerial vehicles are increasingly being used for applications ranging from package delivery to weaponized air strikes, researchers and military leaders work to stay up to date on the latest developments and possible threats. Accuracy is paramount in any tracking application, but even more so when that data is driving robotic control systems and fueling advanced research in the interest of national security.

Holding a drone

Source: Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

In a piece by Northeastern covering the new facility’s ribbon cutting, David Luzzi, vice president for Northeastern’s Innovation Campus and vice provost for research innovation and development, said, “When you have companies like [the Russian arms producer] Kalashnikov starting to advertise drone systems that carry explosives for the world market, we’re now faced with the prospect of drones that can fly 40 miles and suicide-attack with explosives. Obviously, counter-UAS is extremely important.”

Find out more about Northeastern’s new drone-testing facility here: