The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is experimenting by using a swarm of autonomous drones and ground robots to assist in military missions. They conducted a recent test in which the video showed how its robots analyzed two city blocks to find, surround and secure a mock city building.
Going into further details, teams undertook tasks including locating and isolating a mock city hall building, locating and securing an objective inside, and then securing the building. Those tasks were completed while maintaining situational awareness of the surrounding area. Test runs lasted up to 30min. The team likens this to the way firefighters set up a perimeter around a burning building.
DARPA conducted its test back in June in Georgia, featuring both drones and ground-based robots. The demonstration was part of DARPA’s OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) program, designed to eventually accompany small infantry units as they worked in dense urban environments, and could scale up to 250 drones and ground robots. The test back in June was the second of six planned tests, whose complexity will increase as they ought to happen over the next couple of years.
DARPA has many OFFSET program tests planned like the Georgia experiment as explained above. Thus, the agency anticipates that if everything goes as per planned these field experiments can happen every six months.
Eventually, DARPA hopes to develop collaborative autonomous systems that can relay important information to ground units operating in confined urban areas. However, in these areas, they might not have any idea what’s around the next corner. The agency says these swarms could include over 250 drones and plans to conduct demonstrations every six months in pursuit of its aims.