Long-Term Swarms of MIT Quadrotor UAVs

Posted 26 Sep 2006 at 20:23 UTC by steve Share This

MIT has been working on the problem of autonomous vehicle swarms engaged in long-term, 24/7 missions. An MIT news release describes their latest results using multiple Quadrotor UAVs. Each robot is described as being "a little smaller than a seagull". (the article does not make clear why seagulls are consider an ideal measure of robot scale). The robots are based on "off-the-shelf gadgets" which look suspisously like the radio control draganflyer. Each of the UAVs is networked to a PC allowing an operator to command the swarm while letting each robot take care of the technical details of takeoffs, landings, and flying. The swarm also includes moving ground vehicles. In one experiment, one of the quadrotor UAVs successfully landed on a moving ground vehicle. The "health" of the swarm is also monitored. New robots are instantly launched to replace those that are lost or grounded. Potential applications include surveillance or search and rescue operations. For more photos and information see the MIT UAV SWARM Health Management Project.

A taste of things to come, posted 26 Sep 2006 at 21:31 UTC by motters » (Master)

This kind of thing is clearly how we can expect to see wars being fought over the next few decades. Surveillance and rescue will be initial uses, but actual war fighting will follow shortly afterwards, for example to sustain continuous bombardment of a target.

It's really a robotic re-reun of what happened in the early 20th century, when generals initially believed that the early flimsy aeroplanes would be useful for getting a look at what the enemy was doing but would never be of any practical significance in a battle. A few decades later much better engineered flying machines were deciding the outcomes of wars and laying waste to entire cities.

Accuracy., posted 28 Sep 2006 at 10:16 UTC by marev » (Observer)

Also makes military strikes far more accurate and justified without civilian losses,nice work for the future here.

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