Study into security countermeasures against Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)

Technology supervisor: Graeme Woodward (SERC)
Academic supervisor: TBC

Applicants are invited for the following Master’s Degree project within the University of Canterbury’s College of Engineering.


While UAV is an emerging technology with great potential to benefit humanity, it also has the potential to be used in a harmful manner. This type of use may span a spectrum of low-level unintended harm, through purposeful criminal activity, to acts of terrorism. A well-established NZ security company intends to create security technology to help protect organisations against harmful use of UAS.

Project details

Whilst UAS security incursions would invoke surveillance and targeting, the focus of this project will be on interdiction, and methods of neutralising the security threat, with components of evidence gathering.


To develop a system that will defeat unwanted UAS incursions into defined geographical areas.
The proposed system will have following characteristics:

  • Non-kinetic.
  • Pose minimal risk to the public when utilised in a public area.

The following attributes are desirable:

  • High Probability of success against the vast majority of UAV available to the general public and defend a cylinder of airspace with a radius of 1km and height of 300m.
  • Should be of minimal cost, multi-shot, robust, transportable in vans and commercial aircraft, less than 25Kg and require less than 1 kW of power.
  • Enable preservation of evidence for any subsequent prosecution.


  • To work alongside the client and Civil Aviation Authority to develop a UAS countermeasure system, 
  • Testing various operational and technical scenarios for feedback to the client and CAA.
  • The main deliverable will provide a proof of concept model and research thesis on the technical outcomes of the project.


The suitable candidate will have a background in engineering, with strengths and interests in avionic engineering, mechatronics, and with some links to communications and computer science.

Stipend and duration

The student may receive a stipend of $20000 tax-free, with the course fees being the responsibility of the student. The duration of the project will be one year, and he/she will work mainly within, and use facilities of the Spatial Engineering Research Centre. There may be some opportunity to work with the client at their site, and at various flight test sites in New Zealand.

Submission of applications

This opportunity will be open until filled. Applicants are required to submit the following documents by email to Graeme Woodward, Research Lead, Spatial Engineering Research Centre.

  • Your current curriculum vitae.
  • An A4 page typed statement about how your experience or interests relate to the chosen project(s).
  • A reference from a supervisor or lecturer (or referee details).
  • A copy of your current academic transcript.

Please ensure you include: Full legal name, postal address, email address, telephone/mobile number, programme and year of study and student number.


  • The University of Canterbury reserves the right to not award the stipend if a suitable candidate is not found. 
  • Short-listed applicants will be interviewed by the UC project supervisors, College of Engineering.
  • Applicants must meet the University of Canterbury enrolment criteria for postgraduate study. 
  • Stipend subject to a successful contract agreement with the client, once a suitable candidate is identified.