March 25, 2015

Commanding the Swarm

By Paul Scharre

Today’s uninhabited vehicles are largely tele-operated, with a person piloting or driving the vehicle remotely, but tomorrow’s won’t be. They will incorporate increasing autonomy, with human command at the mission level. This will enable one person to control multiple vehicles simultaneously, bringing greater combat power to the fight with the same number of personnel. Scaling up to large swarms, however, will require even more fundamental shifts in the command and control paradigm.

The Naval Postgraduate School is working on a 50-on-50 swarm vs. swarm aerial dogfight, and researchers at Harvard have built a swarm of over athousand simple robots working together to create simple formations. As the number of elements in a swarm increases, human control must shift increasingly to the swarm as a whole, rather than micromanaging individual elements.

Read the full op-ed at War on the Rocks.

  • Podcast
    • March 12, 2019
    CNAS Tech: How (Not) to Talk About AI & Lethality

    The U.S. Army recently announced its new Advanced Targeting & Lethality Automated System, or ATLAS program. The announcement generated concern and media headlines about the le...

    By Paul Scharre, Kara Frederick & Megan Lamberth

  • Video
    • September 18, 2018
    Will WWIII Be Fought By Robots?

    What will autonomous weapons mean for how future wars are waged and the loss of human lives in armed conflicts? That's the topic of a new book, Army of None: Autonomous Weapon...

    By Paul Scharre

  • Commentary
    • Foreign Policy
    • September 13, 2018
    A Million Mistakes a Second

    Militaries around the globe are racing to build ever more autonomous drones, missiles, and cyberweapons. Greater autonomy allows for faster reactions on the battlefield, an ad...

    By Paul Scharre

  • Commentary
    • NBC News
    • August 7, 2018
    Six arrested after Venezuelan president dodges apparent assassination attempt

    Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was speaking at a military event when a drone carrying plastic explosives detonated on Saturday. CNAS Technology and National Security Dire...

    By Paul Scharre

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia