Analysis of custom-built drones based on the PX4 controller

June 12, 2024

The need for drone forensics is rapidly becoming essential for investigating crimes involving identifying unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Theses crimes include drug trafficking, contraband delivery, airspace violations, unauthorized surveillance, and many others.

Currently there are numerous types of drone models. Due to the growing number of model types, investigators need the ability to examine flight history from a variety of drones which can provide investigators with detailed operational data, such as flight path, source of origin, altitude, speed and other parameters. This data is crucial for understanding incidents and identifying operators.

Oxygen Forensic® Detective v.16.3 introduces support for ULog logs of custom-built drones based on the PX4 controller. PX4 Autopilot is a popular open-source flight control system oriented for drones and other uncrewed vehicles.

Import and Analyze PX4 logs

View and analyze logs in Oxygen Forensic® Detective

To import these logs in Oxygen Forensic® Detective, choose the “PX4 drone logs” option on the software Home screen and follow the instructions.

Screenshot of drones section on the Oxygen Forensic® Detective dashboard

The following artifacts can be extracted from PX4 drone logs:

  • Drone technical information
    • Operating system
    • Chip name
    • OS version
    • Hardware version
    • Software version
  • Home points
  • Global and GPS points with detailed flight information
  • Sensors data
    • Time stamp
    • Altitude
    • Temperature
    • Absolute pressure
    • Air density
  • Journals that contain information about flight errors, takeoff, and landing

Screenshot of user viewing imported PX4 logs in Oxygen Forensic® Detective

By clicking the “Geo Data” button on the toolbar, you can obtain addresses from the extracted coordinates. This will provide more detailed information about the flight of interest.

The drone flight path can be visualized on the Maps module by clicking the “Maps” button on the toolbar. The Maps module will also allow you to see the altitude graphs as well as record and save a video visualizing the flight path.

Screenshot of the Maps module within Oxygen Forensic® Detective that shows a drone’s flight path imported from PX4 log

Interested in drone analysis in Oxygen Forensic© Detective? Request a 15-day free trial.

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