The drone swarms are coming, and the military is sending them. Developments in drone hives have been ongoing for a while. Now, a new report reveals that effort is closer to reality.
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For the long-term, as machines become intelligent and autonomous, human-machine and machine-machine teaming will become the norm in military operations, a trend that military planners already address in their forecast, research and development roadmaps.
Robotic platforms already team to cooperate on specific missions, such as surveillance indoors, where groups of ground vehicles and aerial robots cooperate on a common goal to scan an indoor space as quickly as possible using the least number of assets and time. Similar cooperation begins to appear in certain search and rescue operations. These applications highlight efficiency and are suitable primarily for security, intelligence gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions on the military, homeland security and civilian applications.
Multirotor drones are not too efficient in energy consumption, and their endurance is often measured in minutes. When persistence is a requirement, swarm operations can rely on rapid power replenishment in the field, in the form of autonomous rapid charging pads or docking stations scattered in the area. Such products are already available commercially, for example, from the German company SkySense, Estonian Eli Airborne Solutions and Israel’s Airobotics……
….. Another concept being explored by the US Marine Corps is the deployment of a robotic unit acting as an organic element with the platoon. The Study of Autonomy prepared in 2016 by the Defense Science Board recommended that such drone ‘squadrons’ will comprise between 10 and 40 aircraft of several different types: Some will carry sensors (visual, thermal, or even acoustic are suggested), some will have jamming or communications payloads, others will carry weapons. Using EW payloads carried closer to their designated targets, drones will be able to deploy jammers, spoofing transmitters, and digital radio frequency memory (DRFM) transceivers closer to the enemy, becoming powerful electronic attack weapons.