April 15, 2015

The Navy is Preparing To Launch Swarm Bots Out of Cannons

By Paul Scharre

The U.S. Navy will launch up to 30 synchronized drones within one minute, possibly from a single cannon-like device, in what marks a significant advance in robot autonomy. The drones, when airborne, will then unfold their wings and conduct a series of maneuvers and simulated missions with very little human guidance over the course of 90 minutes.

Navy officials announced on Tuesday that they intend to stage a key demonstration of the swarm bots from what the Navy is calling a “tube-based launcher,” essentially, a big cannon, next year.

The program, which the Navy is called Low-Cost UAV Swarming Technology, or LOCUST, marks a significant advance in applications for robotic swarming software. In August, the Office of Naval Research, or ONR, which is behind the program, demonstrated a swarming configuration of 13 robotic boats on Virginia’s James River. The boats were able to perform a variety of tasks to protect a high-value ship from incoming craft.

Read the full piece at Defense One

  • Paul Scharre

    Senior Fellow and Director, Technology and National Security Program

    Paul Scharre is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Technology and National Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. He is author of the forthcoming book, A...