A SYSTEM has been developed to predict drone flight paths to prevent the closure of major airports.

Academics have developed the system which they claim can help prevent the closure of major airports such as Gatwick Airport near Crawley in December 2018.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge say a combination of statistical techniques and radar data makes it possible to forecast whether a drone intends to enter restricted airspace.

Dr Bashar Ahmad, who carried out the research on predicting flight paths while at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Engineering, said: “While we don’t fully know what happened at Gatwick, the incident highlighted the potential risk drones can pose to the public if they are misused, whether that’s done maliciously or completely innocently.

“It’s crucial for future drone surveillance systems to have predictive capabilities for revealing, as early as possible, a drone with malicious intent or anomalous behaviour.”

The researchers believe this can enable airports to focus on responding to drones, which pose a potential threat.

Drone activity at Gatwick saw around 1,000 flights cancelled or diverted between December 19-21, 2018.

No culprit was found, and there was criticism over the amount of time it took for the runway at Gatwick airport to reopen.

The Argus: Drones have caused over 1,000 of flights to be cancelled or delayed at Gatwick AirportDrones have caused over 1,000 of flights to be cancelled or delayed at Gatwick Airport

Dr Jiaming Liang, one of the researchers who develop the system’s algorithms, said: “We need to spot threats as early as possible, but we also need to be careful not to overreact, since closing civilian airspace is a drastic and highly disruptive measure that we want to avoid, especially if it ends up being a false alarm.”

Some of the results of the study will be reported on Wednesday at the Sensor Signal Processing for Defence Conference in Edinburgh.

Have you got a story for us? Email news@theargus.co.uk or contact us here.

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to keep up with all the latest news.

Sign up to our newsletter to get updates sent straight to your inbox.

You can also call us on 01273 021 400.