When I first met Randall Nichols in 2014, he had just retired from Utica College as a Professor in Cybersecurity. At the time, I was a Professor in Computer Systems Technology on the Kansas State University Salina campus. K-State Salina had already established one of the first UAS degree programs in the United States and had built a strong UAS research program. Professor Nichols approached K-State Salina to discuss the need to integrate cybersecurity education into our UAS programs and raise awareness of the security implications of UAS technology. Shortly after our first meeting, K-State hired Professor Nichols to do just as he suggested. Randall Nichols has established himself as one of the world’s foremost cybersecurity experts in UAS/CUAS/UUV and related technologies.
This textbook is the sixth in a series covering UASs & UUVs from Randall Nichols and his team of experts. It is an ambitious project demonstrating just how far drone technology and its uses have come. I have been fortunate enough to be on the team’s communication channel as they share the latest news and viewpoints and discuss chapter content. The 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine began midway through the writing of this book. It has been amazing to see how this dedicated team of authors reworked their chapters to incorporate the latest use cases happening in real-time. As you read the book, I hope you appreciate the amount of research behind it and the team’s ability to distill that information into a digestible format.
Though the idea of using drones to deliver weapons may not be the image that the industry wants to cultivate, it is nevertheless a fascinating and essential subject. The authors do an excellent job of describing how the same drone technology that can navigate urban landscapes to deliver packages to our houses can potentially deliver DEW and CBRNE weapons. The same drone technology that provides an efficient means of spraying an agricultural field could spray a deadly chemical or biological weapon. Artists may use drone swarm technology to create beautiful light shows, while terrorists might use it to deliver a multiprong, multiweapon attack on a target. Of course, this book would not be complete without discussing the detection and mitigation of such attacks. You will learn about drone navigation, sensor, communication, and software technologies and their vulnerabilities.
So far, I have only given you a glimpse of the true scope of the book. There is so much more here for you to discover. The book includes the history of the different weapon and drone technologies, descriptions of how they work, and various use cases and applications. You will delve into policy considerations and even peek into the tools of the trade. Furthermore, there are chapters on emerging technologies such as hypersonic drone missiles and satellite killers.
To fully understand any technology, you need to know the full scope of how people might apply it. It is not enough to only look at how a set of technologies might make our lives more convenient or profitable. We need to understand the other side of the coin. We need to know how people might use those same technologies to wreak havoc and destroy lives or, on the flip side, use them to fight back against a more powerful invader. I expect that this book will provide an excellent resource for your journey into this critical and fascinating arena.
Department Head and Professor
Kansas State University Salina
Aerospace and Technology Campus