The Department of Defense has released video of a test of swarming drones conducted in the skies over the US Navy’s test range at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California. In the October test, conducted by the Department of Defense Strategic Capabilities Office in collaboration with the Naval Air Systems Command, three FA-18 Hornet aircraft dispersed 104 Perdix micro-drones from onboard flare dispensers. The drones then communicated with each other, swarmed, and performed a series of designated “missions”—including finally swarming in a circle around a designated point on the ground.
The sound of the drone swarm, audible from the ground at the designated rendezvous point (at about 2 minutes into the video below), might be described as terrifying. But we’ll leave that judgment to the reader.
In the course of the test, the drones demonstrated advanced swarm behaviors, including self-healing communications, self-adapting formation flying, and collective decision-making.Watch the skies…The battery-powered Perdix drones were developed at MIT’s Lincoln Labs and can be largely produced with a 3-D printer.
“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,” Strategic Capabilities Office Director William Roper explained in a statement about the test. “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.”