Militaries Explore the Collective AI of Drone Swarms

As noted in the 18 SEPTEMBER 2021 edition of the UNMANNED SYSTEMS NEWS (USN), swarms of drones have gotten a lot of time in the spotlight lately, mostly for their use in potential military operations. The U.S. military is testing out swarm operations in simulations, while the British Army is using live drones operating in swarms during actual training operations. Other militaries are also interested in deploying swarms. 

Tech journalist John Breedon recently described latest research programs on drone swarms in an eye-opening story posted at Nextgov[dot]com. “One of the biggest advantages a swarm of drones has when performing military operations is its resiliency. If a swarm enters combat and several individual drones get shot down or otherwise incapacitated, it really doesn’t reduce the combat effectiveness of the swarm, nor the tactics that it uses.

“What makes swarms of drones, and the intelligence that drives them, different from a single flying robot is that individual drones interact with both other drones and their environment. Then the swarm collectively makes decisions and pursues its mission based on different points of data that no single device could have provided. In this way, setting relatively simple instructions or overall goals for a swarm and then giving it freedom to operate can result in surprisingly complex behaviors that extend beyond even what a single AI could accomplish.

“NASA wants to push the concept of swarm intelligence to new heights, adding it to a network of small weather satellites that could coordinate their actions and even change their flight paths and altitudes as needed to study weather events from multiple angles." The program is being worked on at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Satellite illustration courtesy of NASA/SDL/Jose Vanderlei Martins. 

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report, the background for which appeared in their  # 21 - 23 - 18 SEPTEMBER 2021 edition of the UNMANNED SYSTEMS NEWS (USN).

David distributes the USN, a free, comprehensive newsletter in PDF format every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this NREF news update was sourced. To be included in his distribution, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.

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