New technology under development by Raytheon BBN Technologies could unleash swarms of small, autonomous air and ground vehicles, working in tandem and under the control of remote operators.
As part of DARPA’s Offensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics program, the company is developing technology to direct and control these swarms, through scalable programming software that includes visual interfaces for creation and alteration of drone tactics, a game-based simulator to assess those tactics, and a physical swam test site in which to undertake live tactics evaluations.
“Operators use speech or gestures to control the swarm,” Dr. Shane Clark, principal investigator on the program, said. “This is a tremendous advantage during operations. The system provides sensor feeds and mission status indicators for complete situational awareness.”
The result is that users can coordinate drone behaviors in teams and those teams do not have to be all of the same vehicle type or sensor. As part of the DARPA project, Raytheon will also work with other organizations that have created their own novel swarm tactics. Raytheon will help them evaluate in simulation, and possibly field them for live trials as well.