The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the agency behind a number of defense-related projects, is experimenting with using a swarm of autonomous drones and ground robots to assist with military missions. It has published a new video in which it showed how its robots analyzed two city blocks to find, surround, and secure a mock city building.
The field experiment took place under DARPA’s OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) program, which is intended for complex urban environments and could eventually scale up to 250 drones and ground robots.
The test took place in Fort Benning, Georgia, arranged to resemble an urban area of around two city blocks. Tasks included locating and isolating a mock city hall building, locating and securing an objective inside, and then securing the building, all while maintaining situational awareness of the surrounding area. The tests lasted up to 30 minutes each.
The agency also explains this work as ‘similar to the way a firefighting crew establishes a boundary around a burning building.’ The test back in June was the second of six planned tests, which DARPA says will increase in complexity as they happen over the next few years.
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If everyone goes as planned, the agency anticipates these field experiments happening every six months. In this simulated swarm mission, the team isolated a subject in the equivalent of what would be a ‘complex scenario’ covering two city blocks.
DARPA hopes to develop collaborative autonomous systems that can relay important information to ground units operating in confined urban areas where they might not have any idea what’s around the next corner.
You can find out more information about the demonstration on DARPA’s website.