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Thread: US Jets Launch Micro-Drone Swarm

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    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    US Jets Launch Micro-Drone Swarm

    IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    Department of Defense Announces Successful Micro-Drone Demonstration
    Press Operations

    Release No: NR-008-17
    Jan. 9, 2017
    PRINT | E-MAIL

    In one of the most significant tests of autonomous systems under development by the Department of Defense, the Strategic Capabilities Office, partnering with Naval Air Systems Command, successfully demonstrated one of the world’s largest micro-drone swarms at China Lake, California. The test, conducted in October 2016 and documented on Sunday’s CBS News program “60 Minutes”, consisted of 103 Perdix drones launched from three F/A-18 Super Hornets. The micro-drones demonstrated advanced swarm behaviors such as collective decision-making, adaptive formation flying, and self-healing.

    “I congratulate the Strategic Capabilities Office for this successful demonstration,” said Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, who created SCO in 2012. “This is the kind of cutting-edge innovation that will keep us a step ahead of our adversaries. This demonstration will advance our development of autonomous systems.”

    “Due to the complex nature of combat, Perdix are not pre-programmed synchronized individuals, they are a collective organism, sharing one distributed brain for decision-making and adapting to each other like swarms in nature,” said SCO Director William Roper. “Because every Perdix communicates and collaborates with every other Perdix, the swarm has no leader and can gracefully adapt to drones entering or exiting the team.”

    The demonstration is one of the first examples of the Pentagon using teams of small, inexpensive, autonomous systems to perform missions once achieved only by large, expensive ones. Roper stressed the department’s conception of the future battle network is one where humans will always be in the loop. Machines and the autonomous systems being developed by the DoD, such as the micro-drones, will empower humans to make better decisions faster.

    Originally designed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineering students, the Perdix drone was modified for military use by the scientists and engineers of MIT Lincoln Laboratory starting in 2013. Drawing inspiration from the commercial smartphone industry, Perdix software and hardware has been continually updated in successive design generations. Now in its sixth generation, October's test confirmed the reliability of the current all-commercial-component design under potential deployment conditions—speeds of Mach 0.6, temperatures of minus 10 degrees Celsius, and large shocks—encountered during ejection from fighter flare dispensers.

    The “60 Minutes” segment also featured other new technology from across the Department of Defense such as the Navy’s unmanned ocean-going vessel, the Sea Hunter, and the Marine Corps’ Unmanned Tactical Control and Collaboration program.

    As SCO works with the military Services to transition Perdix into existing programs of record, it is also partnering with the Defense Industrial Unit-Experimental, or DIUx, to find companies capable of accurately replicating Perdix using the MIT Lincoln Laboratory design. Its goal is to produce Perdix at scale in batches of up to 1,000.

    https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Re...-demonstration

    Video:https://www.dvidshub.net/video/50462...-demo-oct-2016

    Fact Sheet: https://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Do...ct%20Sheet.pdf

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    Department of Defense Announces Successful Micro-Drone Demonstration
    Press Operations

    Release No: NR-008-17
    Jan. 9, 2017
    PRINT | E-MAIL

    In one of the most significant tests of autonomous systems under development by the Department of Defense, the Strategic Capabilities Office, partnering with Naval Air Systems Command, successfully demonstrated one of the world’s largest micro-drone swarms at China Lake, California. The test, conducted in October 2016 and documented on Sunday’s CBS News program “60 Minutes”, consisted of 103 Perdix drones launched from three F/A-18 Super Hornets. The micro-drones demonstrated advanced swarm behaviors such as collective decision-making, adaptive formation flying, and self-healing.

    “I congratulate the Strategic Capabilities Office for this successful demonstration,” said Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, who created SCO in 2012. “This is the kind of cutting-edge innovation that will keep us a step ahead of our adversaries. This demonstration will advance our development of autonomous systems.”

    “Due to the complex nature of combat, Perdix are not pre-programmed synchronized individuals, they are a collective organism, sharing one distributed brain for decision-making and adapting to each other like swarms in nature,” said SCO Director William Roper. “Because every Perdix communicates and collaborates with every other Perdix, the swarm has no leader and can gracefully adapt to drones entering or exiting the team.”

    The demonstration is one of the first examples of the Pentagon using teams of small, inexpensive, autonomous systems to perform missions once achieved only by large, expensive ones. Roper stressed the department’s conception of the future battle network is one where humans will always be in the loop. Machines and the autonomous systems being developed by the DoD, such as the micro-drones, will empower humans to make better decisions faster.

    Originally designed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineering students, the Perdix drone was modified for military use by the scientists and engineers of MIT Lincoln Laboratory starting in 2013. Drawing inspiration from the commercial smartphone industry, Perdix software and hardware has been continually updated in successive design generations. Now in its sixth generation, October's test confirmed the reliability of the current all-commercial-component design under potential deployment conditions—speeds of Mach 0.6, temperatures of minus 10 degrees Celsius, and large shocks—encountered during ejection from fighter flare dispensers.

    The “60 Minutes” segment also featured other new technology from across the Department of Defense such as the Navy’s unmanned ocean-going vessel, the Sea Hunter, and the Marine Corps’ Unmanned Tactical Control and Collaboration program.

    As SCO works with the military Services to transition Perdix into existing programs of record, it is also partnering with the Defense Industrial Unit-Experimental, or DIUx, to find companies capable of accurately replicating Perdix using the MIT Lincoln Laboratory design. Its goal is to produce Perdix at scale in batches of up to 1,000.

    https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Re...-demonstration

    Video:https://www.dvidshub.net/video/50462...-demo-oct-2016

    Fact Sheet: https://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Do...ct%20Sheet.pdf
    What functions are envisaged for micro drones? Are we seeing the beginning of a paradigm shift whereupon america can save money significant on expensive naval and aviation hardware to be replaced by cheaper, smaller machines?
    Last edited by tantalus; 10 Jan 17, at 16:49.

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    I read an article recently on the very basic principles and rules that underlie what at first appears like complex swarming patterns such as schooling fish and flight patterns by birds like the starling. Simulations have helped researchers recommend superior design in case of evacuations in places like stadiums.

    To achieve swarm behaviour, three rules need be followed. Repulsion, move away if space invaded, Attraction, move closer if drift away, and Copying, copy neighbors movements. Apparent complex behaviour can emerge as a result.

    edit. I have seen numerous sci-fi shows where smaller machines have exhibited swarming behaviour to wreck havoc on larger military hardware. Looking more realistic by the second.
    Last edited by tantalus; 10 Jan 17, at 16:24.

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    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tantalus View Post
    What functions are envisaged for micro drones? Are we seeing the beginning of a paradigm shift whereupon america can save money significant on expensive navel and aviation hardware to be replaced by cheaper, smaller machines?
    They can provide persistent ISR in an area covered by hostile IADS while presenting the enemy with a difficult choice about how or whether to remove them.

    Imagine an S-500 system covering a big chunk of territory. The US knows it's there, but doesn't have an exact location to strike because it's mobile. A pair of F-22s or F-35s could sneak in close enough to deploy 100 micro-drones, then scoot without ever coming close enough to be engaged by the S-500.

    The micro-drones are given a command to carry out a search pattern for the S-500 system and relay the coordinates back for a strike and move off to do so.

    What options do the S-500 team have now? They can track the micro-drones and engage them if they wish, but they'll be spending multimillion dollar missiles on cheap expendable drones. The drones are networked in such a way that even blowing huge holes in their numbers doesn't impact them unduly, they just re-adjust their formation to optimise spacing and carry on until they are all destroyed or they run out of fuel.

    If you can bait the S-500 into blowing it's load of ammunition on micro-drones, you've just taken it off the battlefield as surely as hitting it with a cruise missile. But if they don't expend their ammunition to remove the drones, they'll be targeted and demolished by cruise missiles once the drones report their position.

    This exploits the weakness of highly capable IADS systems designed to counter US stealth fighters. Their radar and missiles are both hugely expensive, and thus limited in quantity. Our adversaries now have to choose if they want to invest in another system designed to engage hundreds of micro-drones to protect their more expensive high capability SAMs. If they do, that means fewer high capability SAMs that will be fielded to give our stealth fleet troubles.
    Last edited by SteveDaPirate; 10 Jan 17, at 17:06.

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    Senior Contributor Doktor's Avatar
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    Question: can a drone land with it's weapons? I am fairly certain it should, but, can't dig the net to find a photo and/or a text supporting it.

    Thanks.
    No such thing as a good tax - Churchill

    To make mistakes is human. To blame someone else for your mistake, is strategic.

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    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doktor View Post
    Question: can a drone land with it's weapons? I am fairly certain it should, but, can't dig the net to find a photo and/or a text supporting it.

    Thanks.
    Yep



    Last edited by SteveDaPirate; 10 Jan 17, at 19:39.

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    Senior Contributor Doktor's Avatar
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    I thought I deleted it and moved, but thanks again.
    No such thing as a good tax - Churchill

    To make mistakes is human. To blame someone else for your mistake, is strategic.

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    Last edited by YellowFever; 10 Jan 17, at 20:09.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    They can provide persistent ISR in an area covered by hostile IADS while presenting the enemy with a difficult choice about how or whether to remove them.

    Imagine an S-500 system covering a big chunk of territory. The US knows it's there, but doesn't have an exact location to strike because it's mobile. A pair of F-22s or F-35s could sneak in close enough to deploy 100 micro-drones, then scoot without ever coming close enough to be engaged by the S-500.

    The micro-drones are given a command to carry out a search pattern for the S-500 system and relay the coordinates back for a strike and move off to do so.

    What options do the S-500 team have now? They can track the micro-drones and engage them if they wish, but they'll be spending multimillion dollar missiles on cheap expendable drones. The drones are networked in such a way that even blowing huge holes in their numbers doesn't impact them unduly, they just re-adjust their formation to optimise spacing and carry on until they are all destroyed or they run out of fuel.

    If you can bait the S-500 into blowing it's load of ammunition on micro-drones, you've just taken it off the battlefield as surely as hitting it with a cruise missile. But if they don't expend their ammunition to remove the drones, they'll be targeted and demolished by cruise missiles once the drones report their position.

    This exploits the weakness of highly capable IADS systems designed to counter US stealth fighters. Their radar and missiles are both hugely expensive, and thus limited in quantity. Our adversaries now have to choose if they want to invest in another system designed to engage hundreds of micro-drones to protect their more expensive high capability SAMs. If they do, that means fewer high capability SAMs that will be fielded to give our stealth fleet troubles.
    like
    Quote Originally Posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    but they'll be spending multimillion dollar missiles on cheap expendable drones. .
    .
    death by economics

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    Within decades one wonders if cheap drone technology will not disproportionately favour smaller nations and a military that is less advanced. Not to mind the tactical potential for terrorists. At the very least the tech will be more readily accessible to many nations than many other military applications.

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    Quote Originally Posted by YellowFever View Post
    If the purpose was to be utterly terrifying then they have succeeded.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tantalus View Post
    Within decades one wonders if cheap drone technology will not disproportionately favour smaller nations and a military that is less advanced. Not to mind the tactical potential for terrorists.
    Cheap drones can be fried by radiofrquency weapons. The army is experimenting with soldier borne weapons now we'll probably see vehicle borne phased array steered weapons within the decade.

    It's going to be fascinating to see how this develops.

    One interesting aspect: what happens to jungle warfare once you can have swarms of surveillance drones shooting lidar through the foliage from every angle?
    Last edited by citanon; 11 Jan 17, at 01:08.

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    Quote Originally Posted by citanon View Post
    If the purpose was to be utterly terrifying then they have succeeded.
    Imagine if we can get pound or two of high explosives of each of those suckers and let them play kamikaze.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tantalus View Post
    Within decades one wonders if cheap drone technology will not disproportionately favour smaller nations and a military that is less advanced. Not to mind the tactical potential for terrorists. At the very least the tech will be more readily accessible to many nations than many other military applications.
    115 years since the first aircraft...
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    If these drones were like Harpy or Harop then it would be a nightmare, 100s of smart grenades flying around :O
    cheers

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