Spoofing GPS and getting your own UAV

A couple folks over at the Radionavigation Lab at UT Austin successfully spoofed GPS to take control of a small helicopter drone this weekend. Of course, this attracted the attention of the Department of Homeland security, so you’d better stock up on GPS spoofing equipment while there’s still time.

The DHS, CIA, and US Military have a huge interest in spoofing GPS; Iran stole a drone late last year using the same method. The UT Austin team used only about $1000 worth of equipment to take control of an autonomous drone and pilot it away under unauthorized control. Of course with matters of homeland security, the open-source hacker scene has yet to publish how this spoofing attack was actually done, but here’s a paper covering what is needed to remotely control up to four GPS-guided drones.

While waiting on the details of this build to be made public, feel free add your own insight in the comments as to how this attack was actually performed.

Awesome little UAV flies 1 km

After going to an SMD soldering workshop at the Stuttgart hackerspace ShackSpace, [Corvus] decided to be an over achiever and build a flight controller for his very own unmanned aerial vehicle.

The airplane itself is a regular store-bought foam contraption, and not terribly interesting in and of itself. Autonomous flight piques some interest, though. A custom flight controller PCB was designed and built by [Corvus] to work alongside a tiny STM32 Linux board. These two boards, combined with the OpenPilot project allow the plane to keep altitude, bearing, speed, and position in check autonomously. Telemetry between the ground station and vehicle is handled by UAVTalk and a ThinkPad.

In the video after the break, [Corvus] piloted the plane up to altitude, then directed it to fly 500 meters North and turn around. The result was an autonomous flight of over one kilometer. The next stage of the project is implementing some SLAM applications with optical path finding and obstacle avoidance.

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Engine Hacks: A pulse jet UAV by any other name would still be a cruise missile

Imagine our surprise when we learned [Bruce Simpson], who made headlines in 2003 with his $5000 DIY cruise missile, is still alive, not illegally interned in a black ops prison, and still doing what he does best: building really awesome remote-control airplanes.

The first successful mass-produced pulse jet aircraft was the German V-1 flying bomb. The V-1 had a very primitive guidance system, but the unmanned pulse jet aircraft quickly evolved into a few target drones used by the US Air Force. There was never any significant advancement towards improving the fuel consumption, noise level, or heat signature of pulse jets, so they were superseded by the superior turbojet. Despite their failings, pulse jets are remarkably easy to build and amazingly fast.

Instead of being antagonized by the New Zealand and United States governments, [Bruce] spends most of his time now working on pulse jet projects. He’s flown quite a few modified R/C planes and has an electronic Engine Control Unit for his jets. One of his most impressive projects is the 100 pound thrust pulse jet that was later attached to a go-kart. His no weld version of a pulse jet can be built in even the most minimalist work shop and is the epitome of an easy-to-build jet engine.

To get an idea of how fast [Bruce]‘s planes can be, check out his Long-EZ R/C pulse jet in action after the break.

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WASP UAV gets some new toys, now intercepts your phone calls too

wasp_drone

If you had the pleasure of attending last year’s DEFCON conference, you are no doubt familiar with [Mike Tassey] and [Richard Perkins]. There, the pair showed off a work in progress DIY aerial drone named WASP. Short for Wireless Aerial Surveillance Platform, WASP was impressive when we brought it to your attention last year, but the duo has spent some time completing their project, adding a few extra features in the process.

The drone still packs the same pico-ITX computer which now runs Backtrack5, and utilizes a 340 million word dictionary for cracking WiFi networks (pardon the pun) on the fly. While updated pen testing tools are well and good, the most impressive update is that the drone can now act as a standalone GSM tower. This allows the pair to trick nearby phones into routing calls through WASP before being relayed to their carrier’s network.

Once WASP is launched, the plane flies autonomously along a preset route, sniffing, hacking, cracking and gathering data until [Tassey and Perkins] summon it back to Earth. The drone is as impressive as it is scary, and we can’t wait to hear what the pair has to say about it this time around.

Continue reading to watch a video demo of WASP taking to the skies and doing its thing.

[via PopSci]

[Thanks, DainBramage1991]

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Augmented reality UAV controller

Controlling a long-range unmanned aerial vehicle is much easier if you have an augmented reality system like [Fabien Blanc-Paques] built. On board the aircraft you’ll find a sensor suite and camera, both transmitting data back to the operator. As the title of this post indicates, the display the operator sees is augmented with this data, including altitude, speed, and a variety of super-handy information. For instance, if you get disoriented during a flight there’s an arrow that points back to home. There’s also critical information like how many milliamp-hours have been used so that you can avoid running out of juice, and GPS data that can be used to locate a downed aircraft. Check out some flight video after the break.

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Drone cracks WiFi from on high

The WiFi Aerial Surveillance Platform, or WASP for short, is an autonomous drone aircraft that sniffs out WiFi networks. But it packs a much larger punch than that. Built into this US Army surplus target drone you’ll find an ITX form-factor computer with a Via C7 500 MHz processor that is running Backtrack 4, the popular penetration testing Linux suite. But what if you want to do some real heavy lifting that the onboard PC can’t handle quickly? They’ve thought of that too. There’s an integrated 3G modem which allows for control over the Internet and facilitates the outsourcing of load-intensive operations to the cloud. It’s not shooting fireworks from the wings, but this payload has the potential to cause way more trouble.

[Thanks Spore]

Aircraft carrier is moving target for autonomous quadcopter

[Karl-Engelbert Wenzel] developed a UAV capable of taking off and landing on a moving platform autonomously. The platform operates aircraft-carrier-style by driving around the room in circles. The quadcopter tracks a grid of IR LEDs at the front of the landing deck by using the IR camera from a Wii remote. The best part is that the flight controls and processing are all done by the copter’s onboard ATmega644 processor, not requiring a connection to a PC. The landings are quite accurate, achieving a maximum error of less than 40 centimeters. In the video after the break you can see the first landing is slightly off the mark but the next two are dead on target.

So build yourself a mobile platform and pair it up with your newly finished quadcopter to replicate this delightful hack.

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