Drone swarms refer to a collection of many drones with fixed wings which operate in formations that are coordinated.
As people are continually purchasing drones, the price of these unmanned and small aerial systems is decreasing, and their capabilities are growing. In the past years, drones were expensive, underpowered and remotely piloted gadgets which had short battery life. However, with the advanced technology, they have been developed and currently have the ability to operate independently and have batteries if high capacities which indicate long lasting battery life.
The future of drone swarms
Some of the popular drones are the Reapers which are heavily armed drones with fixed wings that have been used in the past by the American Forces to implement quiet wars in various parts of the world. However, there are certain studies that have demonstrated that the consumer grade small drones may be utilized in swarms and effectively attack the American infantry using onboard bombs.
This clearly indicates that although the large Reaper and Predator drones are a faces of the modern militaries, the drone swarms may turn out to be the feature of the unmanned combat. This has resulted in the Chinese firmly embrace the anticipation that the aerobatic drones flock may be the future. They even believe that they are leading in the drone swarm technology and even recently released a certain video that illustrated the largest fixed wings drones swarm that has ever been flown.
Currently, a limited number of drones within the system are being controlled by one person, but in future, many drones will most likely be controlled by one person. Certain studies are being conducted in an attempt to come up with drones which will collectively cost less than one missile. Additionally, the US air forces are developing miniature drones which can overwhelm the air forces.
New drone swarm technology by microsystems
Micro Systems is the subsidiary of the Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, a company that specializes in offering various security services such as missile defense, unmanned systems, and cybersecurity among others. Drone fall under the category of the unmanned systems. Micro Systems recently publicized that it has established a new drone swarm technology referred to as WOLF- PAK.
This technology uses collective behaviors of many vehicles that independently follow one leader vehicle. Every vehicle within the swarm locates and recognizes the other vehicles so as to provide a genuine swarming configuration. The vehicles remain in predefined distances from each other while the swarm is constantly adjusting and reconfiguring itself without depending on a controlled system that is centralized.
The strength of drone swarms
As you would anticipate, the strength of the drone swarms depends on the traditional truism on strength in the numbers. While a single missile or a single mechanical failure can eliminate the multimillion-dollar F35 combat aircraft, the swarm has the ability to take on failures and casualties and still keep going. Additionally, if the swarm happens to be sufficiently big, it can easily overwhelm the defenders by engaging with many drones which they can’t handle.
How does the drone swarm work?
For the purpose of creating prosperous dynamics between different drones in swarms, scientists involved with such projects analyzed the group of animals like fish or birds when they collectively moved in masses. Every drone is fitted with the sensor that helps it in communicating and knowing the position of the other drones which are members of the swarm at a specific time. These drones have the ability to share the information they are obtaining from their respective sensors about the things they are observing at any particular time. Drones which are leading the swarm can inform the drones behind what they should do depending on what they see liking information about an upcoming obstacle. The dynamic simply means that these drones ‘think’ like a swarm.
What makes the swarm drones unique?
Drones in a swarm are very different from the other drones that most of us are familiar with. This is due to the fact the drones of a swarm are distinctively programmed ahead of time so that they can follow certain patterns that are synchronized. A perfect example of drone swarm is the drone Intel show which occurred in the latest Winter Olympics whereby the drones flew towards the sky in complex formations during the extended formation. So basically, these Intel drones had been programmed ahead of time to perform in that particular routine. Contrastingly, the drones in the swarm did not have a pre-determined route before they took off. Drone swarms must adhere to certain parameters like not flying into air zones that are restricted, although they won’t have any active inputs or commands from the pilot at the ground level after they start flying.
The key feature for the success of drone swarms
The main aspect of the drone swarms is to ensure that the whole group is acting as one unit, although they aren’t centrally controlled. As a matter of fact, every member of drone swarm utilizes coordination software that mimics the behavior of a school of fish or s flock of birds. Currently, various military drones such as the Reaper drones are flown one by one using the remote pilot although one operator can be able to command or control any number he wishes of the drones within a swarm. Drones’ operator simply issues them a general command like ‘search this location’ and the drone swarm instantly coordinates the individual members so that they can perform that task.
Competition in the drone swarm technology
For the past years, the United States seems to be clearly leading in adopting the swarming drone technology. For instance, ARSENAL, which is an engineering lab that deals with the systems of advanced robotics, established a swarm that consisted of fifty drones in California and all of them were being controlled by one operator. However, within the recent months, a China corporation shattered the record of ARSENAL when they launched a swarm that consisted of sixty-seven drones which were flying together during the eleventh China international Aerospace and Aviation exhibition. A member of the China-based corporation (CETC) even claimed that their corporation is currently at the top worldwide when it comes to the drone swarm technology.
CETC claim that their drones can be able to network together while they are in the flight and collaborate so that they can carry out surveillance, reconnaissance and intelligence missions. Additionally, they can be able to take off and maintain formation. These are the key capacities of a genuine autonomous swarm that can be able to function without the oversight of humans, although nobody is aware of how well that software can handle real-life situations.
There are also feature ideas that may be implemented in the drone swarms such as the ‘saturation attack, whereby the drones locate the suspicious missile launcher then destroy it completely.
There are many drones within the airspace of China since their drones are launched with essentially big rubber bands, unlike ARSENAL which has sophisticated launchers that are chain driven. One limit of the drone swarm exercise in the United States is a number of the launchers and time taken for it to reload. This is also another reason why for the recording of the multi-copter swarm drones, that take off in a vertical direction even without using the launchers, happens to be much higher.
Drone swarms in China
Some of the drones that are available in China include the Skywalker X6s models that were made by Skywalker Tech Company that is based in the region of Wuhan, China. These drones are well known especially among hobbyists since they are purchased in the kit form at affordable prices and are equipped with the custom electronics. This drone company is so popular such an extent that even ARSENAL used their X8 model in their drone swarm. Some of the reasons that have contributed to their popularity include; they are readily available, can be customized easily and are reasonably priced. Surprisingly, even ISIS is carrying bombs with the Skywalker drones.
The Chinese swarm drones have rapidly developed, and not many people saw them coming into existence. This simply indicates that the Chinese seem to be edging quietly ahead of all the other countries in the drone Swarm technology. Currently, China is already making portable drones that have warheads that are explosive and swarming software that is effective so as to facilitate the deployment of these drones in massive numbers regardless of whether they are launched from sea, air or the ground.
Despite the fact that militaries are effectively continuing to find counters to the small drones, there are some people that are suggesting that the tactical swarms will probably rule on the battlefield in the future. If by any means that happens, countries with the best drone swarms will continue certain win, and China believes that they are the one leading in that technology. Although it is hard to evaluate that statement, we can easily ignore it.