DARPA tests swarms of drones that send groups of up to 250 autonomous vehicles to combat areas
The new experimental drone program can use swarms of up to 250 air and land vehicles to coordinate military incursions
- In Mississippi, DARPA researchers successfully tested a new drone program
- The program is called Swarm-enabled Offensive Tactics, or DISPLACEMENT
- OFFSET will allow DARPA staff to control swarms of up to 250 drones
- Drones can coordinate different groups to collect data and locate targets
This week, DARPA shared images of a new experimental program that uses large swarms of drones to locate targets and gather situational intelligence in urban raid missions.
As part of the DARPA offensive swarm offensive tactics (OFFSET) program, the test featured a coordinated group of 250 autonomous air and land vehicles.
These vehicles were sent to a simulated urban environment, providing live information on sight lines, enemy positioning, environmental risks and general design as part of a simulated military incursion.
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In Mississippi, DARPA has completed a successful; proof of your drone swarm coordination program, code-named tactics of offensive swarm (OFFSET)
The test was conducted at the DARPA Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, a facility in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
The missions commissioned the drone swarm to find several April tags, a kind of QR code, which had been placed inside the buildings in the training complex, which was designed to approximate a city block.
The swarm of air and land vehicles was autonomously divided into several different groups, each with its own tactical assignment.
Some were sent to buildings to locate the labels of April, while others maintained strategic positions to monitor incoming threats.
Other groups patrolled the ground to help complete a fully 3D map of the environment that could be sent back to human coordinators so they could offer live tactical updates to drones.
While the drones operated autonomously, human operators monitored the live images of the drones.
Human coordinators were able to observe drones through a laptop interface, according to a blog post by DARPA.
They were also able to use augmented reality headsets to interact with a live digital map of the environment created by drones while conducting surveillance operations.
Through OFFSET, groups of up to 250 land and air drones can autonomously coordinate complex military attacks, while human operators observe their movements from a computer interface
Drones are programmed to be subdivided into different groups, each with its own unique tactical task.
A group of drones was responsible for finding AprilTags, a kind of QR code that was hidden around the test area to simulate military targets.
Drones can complete maps of the land as they pass, which human coordinators can access and use to update the group tactics used by drones.
The successful test was the third of a planned total of six, to ensure that both drones and tracking software are reliable.
DARPA says that the remaining three tests should be done at six-month intervals, suggesting that it could still be years before the technology is implemented in any live conflict scenario.
Drones and operating systems were developed in coordination with Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Case Western University and Northwestern University.
HOW FRANCE CAPTURES THE UNWANTED DRONES
France has designed its own weapon against the growing threat of dishonest drones that buzz through the skies of its nation: another drone, with a net.
On a demonstration flight last year at La Queue-en-Brie, east of Paris, the mesh flying machine was shown catching a DJI Phantom 2 drone.
For months, France has faced dozens of drone overflights over sensitive sites, mostly nuclear facilities, a worrying development in a country that gets the highest percentage of its energy in the world from atomic energy.
The French authorities say that the drones currently do not present any threat. But some fear that drones may be spying on French technology or someday be equipped with bombs or other weapons. Authorities have stepped up security at French nuclear sites and are investigating who could be behind the flights with drones.
Possible risks of fake drones include terrorism, invasion of privacy, theft of industry secrets and “damage to the credibility of public authorities, institutions or companies,” said the National Investigation Agency of France.