SEATTLE (CBS Seattle) — Boeing engineers and researchers from Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory successfully demonstrated a “swarm” of drones to be used in battle.
According to a Boeing press release, the researchers and engineers conducted the test flights in Oregon in June using two ScanEagle drones which performed like a “swarm of insects.”
The flight operator was able to connect with the autonomous drones using only a laptop and a military radio. Boeing engineers said the drones were able to complete tasks more efficiently by communicating with each other.
“This swarm technology may one day enable warfighters in battle to request and receive time-critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information directly from airborne (unmanned aerial vehicles) much sooner than they can from ground control stations today,” Gabriel Santander, program director of Advanced Autonomous Networks for Boeing Phantom Works, said in the press release. “Swarm network technology has the potential to offer more missions at less risk and lower operating costs.”
The press release states the Boeing and Johns Hopkins conducted tests in 2011 in which dissimilar drones across air, land and sea collaborated autonomously to conduct searches and communicate information.
The ScanEagle made its first flight in 2002.