Survival drones are flying surveillance cameras or eyes in the sky. They have multiple uses pre and post-Apocalypse. Drones replace large search groups and allow surveillance under high-threat situations without risking human life.
The downside of drones is you need a way to charge the batteries, and many capabilities are lost without GPS satellites.
Still, they are worth considering if you have the basic prepping items squared away.
20 Uses For a Survival Drone
Following are 18 uses for a drone in survival or post-apocalyptic scenario.
#1 Perimeter Surveillance
A Survival drone is good for neighborhood security because you can respond to specific locations when a threat arises.
This is good to keep humans out of harm’s way and allows small groups to concentrate resources in a specific location.
#2 Point Man
Use a Survival drone if you are trying to get out of a highly congested area unsafe for bugging out, for forward recon. and as an eye in the sky to walk you out of the situation to avoid unknown threats.
Avoid crowds, groups of miscreants, illegal checkpoints, fires, fights, congested roadways, downed bridges, etc.
#3 Disaster and Emergency Response
This could be post-SHTF or during a natural catastrophe. Try not to interfere with emergency response personnel.
#4 Reconnaissance Roles
Drones allow real-time advanced warning of forces on the move or entering your area. Track direction, distance traveled, and force size.
#5 Force Multiplier
The ability to accomplish greater feats” than without a drone by replacing multiple people on the ground with a drone in the sky. Useful for small groups or individual families that don’t have the resources for recon.
#6 Search and Rescue
Use Survival drones in post-SHTF situations to save lives by pinpointing injured or lost people quickly with fewer resources.
#7 General Safety
The drone shows you what’s out there and takes the place of moving into a dangerous area on foot.
Use drone information to surpass and scout difficult geography like mountains.
#9 Assess Damage
Imagine you live where there are 4 possible escape routes; two are over bridges, one is via the ocean, and the other highly traveled road with bottlenecks. (this is my scenario) If you have a drone you don’t have to hike each exit route. Use the emergency drone.
The birdseye view from a Survival drone allows you to see relationships between ground objects and understand security in a different light.
Drones make it easier to see and design evacuation routes, and avenues of approach and locate dangerous areas that require fortification.
#11 Survey Areas to Find Resources
During drone recon, you find that there isn’t anyone outside that huge Wally Mart or Home Depot. Looks safe. Let’s go in and get some supplies.
Or you see 300 Hell’s Angel Motorcycles in the parking lot and decide now is not the time.
Recon how game animals are moving and where they are.
Survival Drones will make it easier to find game trails, set up tree stands, and bird-blinds
Transport messages over rough terrain from one area to another by taping a handwritten note to the drone and sending it to another outpost or location
#14 Hazardous Material Environment
Drones are not affected by hazardous chemicals or nuclear fallout as long as you can decontaminate them or consider them a one-and-done throw-away item.
Most drones have the ability to act as a courier by carrying hand-written messages. Small disc drives messages or small parts.
#16 Look for evacuation route(s)
Seeing the lay of the land from the sky allows you to see breaks in the terrain and less challenging geography that would take days to find on foot.
#17 Ranch Management
Fly over fence lines to check for damage or breaches and your livestock’s health.
Mitigate predatory animals
#18 Fishing Spots
Look for ponds and other bodies of water, good fishing structures, and safe entry points.
#19 Autonomous Flight
Set up your drone with interface software to make pre-set flight patterns for autonomous security. Check ingress and egress locations and property boundaries.
Autonomous flight is only available if the drone has the capability and GPS satellites are up and running.
Autonomous flight is not detectable with a Radio Frequency Analyzer.
#20 Side Hustle
A drone is an expensive piece of gear. Pay off the cost by using it as a side hustle. Following, are nine suggestions.
- Professional Video
- Professional Photos
- Survey of commercial construction
- Real estate and property marketing
- Videos of hotels and resorts
- Disaster and emergency preparedness
- Post-natural disaster assessment
- Insurance Assessment
- Search and rescue.
8 Reasons You Don’t Want A Survival Drone
The biggest drawback of using a drone in an SHTF situation is the power requirements for charging batteries and the GPS signals provided by satellites. An alternate charging method like solar is a must-have if you want to keep your drone running.
In Grid-down scenarios, you will need an alternate electricity source like a solar charging station or a generator to charge batteries.
#2 Global Positioning System (GPS)
Many Drones don’t require GPS to operate, but you lose a lot of capability when satellites are down. Autonomous flight and waypoints depend on GPS.
If you aren’t careful flying, you could give away your location, but it is possible to take circuitous routes, fly at a higher elevation to mask noise, and follow terrain to mask your location.
To keep a tracker from tracking your location, recover drones away from home base, and change the location often.
#4 Battery Charge
It can only cover a limited amount of territory with one battery
Charging a drone battery with a small solar unit takes a day.
#5 Spare Parts
Professional drone pilots say, “it’s not if you crash your drone. It’s when you crash it.”
Drone parts are technical and difficult to make, so have spares on hand.
Drones are most effective in good weather.
You can fly some models in heavy winds, but the electronic parts can be damaged by rain or snow.
Drones can cost thousands of dollars.
Throw in software, a remote, batteries, alternate charging resources, night vision, infrared, etc., and you are talking big bucks.
#8 Not For The Average Prepper
Don’t even consider getting a drone unless you are in the advanced stages of prepping.
Food, water, utilities, alternate power sources, food processing equipment, bug-out locations, etc., come first.
Urban Prepping: I think this is one of the top uses for a drone in SHTF, like civil unrest. Unfortunately, drones are restricted or illegal to fly in many U.S. cities. Fly your drone in a legal area and have it as a backup, just in case.
11 Things to Consider When Purchasing A Survival drone For SHTF
You’re looking at an average battery time of 20 to 30 minutes, but technology is constantly improving.
#2 Flight Time
Flight times are increasing, but you can expect a 30-minute flight time from the average drone battery.
#3 Camera Quality
Get a good enough camera to provide the visual information you need.
The more capabilities a drone has, the more it will cost.
#4 Obstacle Avoidance Radar
(Won’t let you fly into an object like a building)
consider how you will use the drone for prepping.
Are you using it at a Bug-in location, or are you on the move and bugging out?
If you are bugging out, use a smaller drone to fit in a go-bag, and don’t forget about the batteries and remote.
#6 Return to Base Capabilities
Some drones can be programmed to return to the base.
GPS and SAT coverage is required for this capability.
Larger remotes give you a bigger picture and allow the pilot to see more detail.
#8 Visibility and Size Vs. Capability
Look for a drone that is harder to see during daylight but still provides the capabilities you need.
#9 Blinking Lights
Purchase Drone models that have the ability to turn lights off, so the drone is harder to detect
#10 Wind Rating
Some drones are more stable in high-winds
#11 Used Survival drones
unless you know the person selling it, avoid purchasing a used drone. You never know how it was treated, if it’s gotten wet, crashed, etc.
9 Drone Safety Tips from the FAA
- Register Your Drone with the FAA if it weighs more than .55 pounds
- The maximum allowable Drone flight Ceiling is 400 FT
- Keep Your Drone within line of sight.
- Be aware of FAA Airspace Restrictions.
- Respect Privacy
- Never fly near other aircraft or airports.
- Never fly over groups, public events, or stadiums full of people.
- Never fly near emergencies such as fires or hurricane recovery efforts.
- Never fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Register Your Drone With the FAA
Where Can I Fly My Drone?
Check out the Federal Aviation Administration B4UFLY smartphone app that provides interactive maps showing no-fly zones for your drone. Follow this link
14 Security Breaches (Survival drone Scenario)
Have you ever been cruising the Survival forums reading articles about people’s plans for SHTF? There is always that one wise guy who chimes in, “I’m not prepping. I plan on taking what other preppers have.” You can infer that this is the type of person who will use a Drone in SHTF. The following information could be used against you by nefarious drone users.
#1 How many people are in your group?
How many people do you have to react to a situation? Enemies can plan for what they are up against.
Everything you do in and around camp.
you or others are away from the survival location: If half your group is away from camp, that might be the perfect opportunity to strike.
#3 People In The Group
This might indicate weakness or vulnerability. Maybe they deal in human trafficking or slavery or want women in their camp.
#4 Vehicles and Weapons
What type of vehicles and weapons and how many? Again, the enemy knows what they are up against and want your vehicles.
How you run your security details allows them to look for patterns or schedules to exploit weaknesses.
#6 Best ingress and egress routes:
If they decide to attack your camp or come in when you are gone. The enemy will know the best routes in and out of your camp.
When you load vehicles with supplies, and where to hit them
#8 Scavenging operations
If you are scavenging with your group, they will know when people are gone, and your camp is most vulnerable.
farming operations: How much food you have, how long you spend in the fields. When the bulk of your people are outside the camp and slower to react.
#10 Livestock on hand
Maybe they want your chickens and beef cattle, or they want to raid your garden at just the right time to harvest.
#11 Equipment on hand
Look for things to steal and know your vulnerabilities.
#12 Everyone sleeps
This may indicate the best time to attack your camp when you are most off-guard.
#13 Off-site locations
Tracking people or vehicles from your location to sister camps or groups you work with.
#14 Location of gear caches
They may see you pulling supplies or checking the gear if you travel to a gear cache. They could easily wait for you to leave and move in to take your supplies.
Tip: Plan to change up your activities in a survival scenario. Do your best to avoid being predictable so the bad guys can’t devise a solid attack plan.
6 Methods to Detect A Survival drone
Drone detection is the territory of military and law enforcement. There is gear to detect drones, but it isn’t 100% effective, is illegal for civilian use, and is expensive.
#1 Radio Frequency Analyzer
Radio Frequency Analyzers detect the radio signal between the drone and the pilot. The system comprises one or multiple antennas that detect radio wave communication and run them through a processing unit to analyze data.
The downside of radio-frequency analyzers is they are short-range and won’t detect drones flying autonomously or without a pilot.
For many drone models, it is possible to preset coordinates and way-points, including back to base. The pilot isn’t communicating with the drone because it’s on autopilot.
Microphones can detect drones’ sounds, but they don’t work well in noisy environments and are pretty short-range. You can get a triangulation on the general direction of the drone, but that’s about it.
#3 Cameras (Survival drone)
Usually used along with one of the other methods of drone detection.
A video camera may have infrared or thermal imaging capability, but it performs poorly in bad weather. Cameras aren’t very effective without other drone counter-measures.
A Radar is pretty much just for the military or a government agency. The radar sends a radio signal burst that hits an object and bounces back to the receiver as an echo.
Radar is long-range and offers constant tracking of an object in the sky. It also tracks all drones, whether on auto-pilot or not.
Radars track everything and don’t distinguish between different types of objects. You could be tracking a bird or a drone.
The icing on the cake, you need a license to use radar, and you aren’t going to get one. It also requires an alternate power source in SHTF.
#5 Micro-Doppler Radar/Weather Radar/Marine Radar
Unfortunately, you can’t use a doppler radar because it must be licensed and approved. Microwave energy is nasty stuff if it isn’t used properly.
- Tracks moving objects
- Detects speed variations in blade movement to determine the difference between a bird and a drone.
#6 Survival drone
Using your own drone isn’t a method of detection. Besides getting a visual on a drone, it’s the only defense the average prepping community will have against nefarious drone usage.
Using drones in your own defenses can counteract the enemy’s surveillance. You can see when they approach your Bug-in location, and you can find their location and surveil their camp. That way, you know what you are up against.
Use drones at your camp to be aware of any possible threats like camps or prepping communities in your area.
Maybe you make contact, and maybe you don’t. Drones will show you the types of activities going on and may prompt you to do some hidden recon.
If you are being monitored, it is likely the person doing the monitoring is mobile or coming from one of the other camps you are already aware of.
5 Survival drone Counter Measures for SHTF
Just an FYI, don’t go around blowing drones up, or you are in for a world of hurt. It’s illegal.
For all you know, the drone buzzing around outside your house is being operated by law enforcement agencies tracking a drug house. 34 Countries have limited drones to the point that they are useless or are outright banned. (for civilian use)
Using these techniques is not legal in your area. Most of these methods are not legal unless they are being used by law enforcement or military personnel. In an end-of-world scenario…all bets are off.
#1 RF Jammer
A device that blasts the RF signal at the drone drowning out the control signal from the pilot. Depending on the drone, it may land, return to the user, crash to the ground, or fly off.
The problem with RF Jammers is they may jam other radio signals and make the drone do unpredictable things. Not good if it has a payload.
#2 GPS Spoofer
A device that replaces the Global Positioning System communication used for navigation. The drone won’t know where it is. The person using the spoofer can control the drone.
#3 High Power Microwave
You’re a prepper, so you’ve probably heard of EMP or Electromagnetic Pulse. It’s similar to EMP coming from a nuclear explosion. These babies either disrupt the electronic circuitry in the drone or fry it completely. this is military-grade gear like bringing a hand grenade to a knife fight. It may destroy other electronics in the vicinity.
#4 Net Guns
Net guns can be fired from another drone or a shoulder-fired cannon. It’s just like netting a bird or a butterfly.
The downside of the net is they have a limited range, and you have to detect the drone before you can use the cannon.
#5 High-Powered Lasers
These are big military-grade systems that only the armed forces will ever have. You can take down jets with these things.
#6 Birds of Prey
This is a little out there, but some organizations train eagles to take drones out in flight. Most notably, the Dutch police.
The program has been squashed. The main reason the Eagles weren’t following orders.
3 Alternates To Survival drones For Detection and Early Warning
Choose one of these other options to amp up your security or plan to use them together to fortify your SHTF Security Plan.
#1 Trail Cameras:
Not real-time information but may be a good addition to your overall security plans. This kills two birds with one stone. You can track game animals and human threats.
#2 Drive Way Alerts or Motion Detectors:
Use these to monitor the main points of access to your SHTF or Bug-out location. You can add multiple sensors to one receiver for wider coverage. Battery-operated versions are available.
#3 Fixed Wing Plane (FPV)
Fixed-wing planes are quieter and faster than drones and have longer battery life, but they are more challenging to take off and land.
If you want to get a drone or unmanned aircraft system, you need to know the rules of where and when you can fly and licensing or registration requirements.
Follow the Federal Aviation Administration link to learn how to get started flying for recreation purposes. Federal Aviation Administration, Getting Started
If you are interested in becoming a Certified Remote Pilot, Including Commercial Operators, Check out the FAA rules for Commercial Operators.
Become A Commercial Drone Pilot FAA
“Eyes of the Army” U.S. Army Roadmap for Unmanned Aircraft Systems 2010-2035 PDF