US Navy wants thousands of small drones

Another project, DEALRS (for the “deployment and use of long-range autonomous systems”), seeks to overcome this challenge. One aspect of DEALRS is working on so-called marsupials or mothership systems: larger drones carrying many smaller drones. Two American drone manufacturers, Kratos and General Atomics, showed off larger drones launching smaller ones. But these only involve one or two vehicles, while DEALRS aims to transport and launch “extremely large numbers” of small drones without human intervention.

Another Super Swarm subproject seeks to overcome a fundamental problem of military hardware: cost. The US Army pays around $49,000 for each of their small mobile drones, called the Rucksack Mobile Drone System. Usable drones would need to be much more affordable to be used in large numbers. A project called MASS (“massive production of autonomous systems”) is using digital design tools and 3D printing to create low-cost drones in large quantities. great. The goal is to have a design that can be modified at will to create drones that are optimized for different purposes — for example, maximizing speed, durability, stealth, and so on. shape or tonnage — from the same production line.

According to the budget documents, MASS will manufacture the drones “as forward/floating as possible,” suggesting production on Navy ships closer to action. The stated goal is to create tens of thousands of drones.

Control and command

The Navy also wanted a more sophisticated control system. Super Swarm already includes collaborative planning and task allocation among swarm members and another subproject, called MATes (for manned and autonomous teams), which aims to help people and swarms work together more easily and give the herd more autonomy.

The communication bandwidth available to the operator can decrease during a task — due to intentional interference, for example — and MATes allow swarms to act on their own when decisions cannot be received from the operator. MATes also provides the information gathered by the swarm to make decisions: it can change its routing when the drones detect new threats, or send the drones to investigate a new threat. New target defined. This will be quite a challenge for artificial intelligence.

“Thousands of autonomous drones means thousands of points of failure,” says Kallenborn. “Modeling and simulation will help reduce the possibility of error, but calculating the myriad of real-world complexities is a pain.”

First wave

If all the Super Swarm projects come together, a U.S. navy will be able to launch a massive swarm to travel long distances, perform detailed reconnaissance over a wide area, and find and attack the target. Small Ukrainian drones destroyed more than a hundred Russian armored vehicles; A swarm of thousands of drones can destroy an entire battalion in one strike. It can direct additional drones against a target that survives the initial attack and provides detailed images of the outcome.

Budget documents show that this swarm is seen as the answer to one of the US military’s biggest headaches: “anti-access/area denial” (or A2/AD), specifically military term for areas covered by ground-to-air and advanced air defense. – missile feeder prevented US forces from entering.

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