US Department of Defense tests world’s largest micro-drone swarm

9 January 2017 (Last Updated January 9th, 2017 18:30)

The US Department of Defense’s (DoD) Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO), in partnership with Naval Air Systems Command, has successfully conducted a micro-drone demonstration at China Lake in California.

The US Department of Defense’s (DoD) Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO), in partnership with Naval Air Systems Command, has successfully conducted a micro-drone demonstration at China Lake in California.

The trial, which featured 103 Perdix drones launched from three F/A-18 Super Hornets, demonstrated advanced swarm behaviours, like collective decision-making, self-healing and adaptive formation flying of the micro-drones.

SCO director William Roper said: “Due to the complex nature of combat, Perdix are not pre-programmed synchronised individuals, they are a collective organism, sharing one distributed brain for decision-making and adapting to each other like swarms in nature.

"The swarm has no leader and can gracefully adapt to drones entering or exiting the team."

“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 test of the Perdix drone, which is currently in its sixth generation, confirmed the reliability of the all-commercial-component design under suitable deployment conditions, which include speeds of mach 0.6, temperatures of minus ten degrees celsius, and large shocks encountered during ejection from fighter flare dispensers.

US Defense Secretary and SCO founder Ash Carter said: “I congratulate the Strategic Capabilities Office for this successful demonstration.

“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.”

The micro-drone test is carried out as part of the Pentagon’s aim to use teams of small, inexpensive, autonomous systems to perform missions that were previously achieved by largeer, expensive systems.

Developed by the US DoD, machines and autonomous systems, such as the micro-drones, will help human beings make better and faster decisions.

SCO aims at developing Perdix at scale in batches of up to 1,000.