ROBO-WARS: DARPA wants to deploy automated drones as coordinated swarms to “isolate an urban objective”

Saturday, April 28, 2018
By Paul Martin

by: Edsel Cook
Saturday, April 28, 2018

DARPA is no longer satisfied with merely deploying drones to the battlefield. It wants swarms of unmanned aircraft and ground-borne robots that can work together to isolate an urban objective, according to an article on TechCrunch.

The military research agency has announced the second “sprint” of its OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) program. Sprints are periods in a program when DARPA announces a main theme and asks for related solicitations or prototypes in the hopes of getting faster technological breakthroughs.

Whereas the first sprint focused on swarm tactics, this sprint’s theme is swarm autonomy. DARPA is fishing around for concepts that can allow drones to talk with each other and work as as a well-oiled team of lean, mean, killing machines with little in the way of human supervision.

These ideas could be built around more capable sensors, smarter software, or more efficient propeller blades. If it allows 50 individual drones to function as a coordinated swarm that can secure an area around the size of a couple of city blocks within 30 minutes, it’s in.

Drone swarms will coordinate themselves with no humans in the loop

According to OFFSET program manager Timothy Chung, the drone swarm will be responsible for setting up a safety bubble around the target area. He likens it to how a fire-fighting crew creates a safe perimeter around an ongoing fire in order to give themselves elbow room to fight the conflagration while also making sure everyone else stays outside the danger zone.

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