QUAD-A NEWS: Army to conduct largest drone swarm experiments ever
A drone at a Convergence Project event
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Army plans to test new swarming tactics with its largest drone group in a major exercise later this year, a senior officer said April 5.
Experimental Demonstration Gateway Exercise 2022 – also known as EDGE 2022 – will feature the “largest swarm of interactive drones to date”, said General Walter Rugen, director of the Future Vertical Lift cross-functional team at the Army at the Aviation Association of America Summit. . The military will preview over 50 technologies at the May event.
Last year’s EDGE exercise was conducted in May at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah to prepare for Project Convergence, which is the Army’s experimentation campaign for joint command and control in all domains. .
The drones will perform behaviors such as detecting and identifying “stimulation threats” and observing when the swarm has entered a degraded visual environment. Rugen noted that the drones will test their ability to report autonomously outside environments without communication or GPS.
The military – which is currently working with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency on swarm technology – will also test the drones’ ability to kill targets and assess combat damage, he said. During EDGE, the service will assess how it can use swarming for combat attacks.
“I can change my word down the line, but maybe we think sometimes…you might want a pack of wolves,” he said.
While drone behaviors aren’t set in stone, Rugen said the swarm could be led by an “alpha” who would control the rest of the drones’ tasks in a hierarchical chain of command.
“If one wolf is hit by the antlers, the second will be up,” he said.
The swarm leader could be a manned platform, but the service is investigating how a drone could take control of the swarm if it is out of range in denied or degraded environments, he said.
“We’re innovating in this space, and we’re seeing what the art of the possible is and that’s very exciting,” he said.
Rugen echoed Army Chief of Staff General James McConville’s concerns about inexpensive unmanned aerial systems. McConville said in his April 4 speech that enemy drones will continue to be a threat in the future.
The experiment will look at what swarms need to do to gain an advantage over swarms used by adversaries, Rugen said during a media roundtable at the summit.
The military will also test electronic warfare capabilities during Exercise EDGE, Rugen noted.
“We’re going to see an enormous amount of needle-moving on electronic warfare with electronic sense, electronic attack and all of that to generate that decision dominance,” he said during a summit panel.
As with Project Convergence, allies and partners are participating in EDGE 2022 this year, Rugen said. Seven international partners will test equipment alongside the military, including as part of a combined air assault.
“We will work on cross-border contingencies and cross-domain solutions to enable these cross-border contingencies to happen quickly,” he said of the air assault exercise.
Topics: Army News, Robotics and Autonomous Systems, Robotics