There have been a series of military strikes in Nigeria that have had a significant impact on remote frontline communities, with the most recent being the misfire in Kaduna. As a physicist and experienced drone operator, I would like to educate those interested in understanding how drones work.
Drones are primarily operated using GPS sensors, which provide precise location data and enable them to navigate along predetermined flight paths. Radar altimeters are used to measure altitude, ensuring safe flight by avoiding obstacles and maintaining an appropriate distance from the ground.
The flight path and settings are typically determined by the drone operator and their team. Incorrect flight plans or rushed procedures can lead to misfires.
Now, let’s discuss GPS in more detail. GPS signals are radio frequency signals transmitted by satellites, containing location and time information. Drones can also utilize other positioning systems like GLONASS, Galileo, or BeiDou for enhanced accuracy and better coverage in different regions of the world. I am unsure which system the Nigerian military employs, but a wrong application of these systems can result in misinterpreted coordinates or a failure to synchronize timely data due to network issues or incorrect system interfaces. When this happens, payloads may be delivered to civilian communities instead of targeted bandit enclaves.
It is crucial for Military formations in Niger, Kaduna and Northeast to review their workflow and ensure that correct instructions are given to drones, as they operate based on automated artificial intelligence. It is disheartening when such misfires occur, as we all have friends and families who could be affected.
Ugwuja George Odinakachi