Johns Hopkins APL, DARPA Test Drone Swarm Concept for Urban Environments

Johns Hopkins APL
Johns Hopkins APL

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency have conducted a test flight to demonstrate the capacity of drone swarms to support combat operations in urban settings.

Johns Hopkins APL said Thursday that the team partly built on its “aerobatic control and collaboration for improved performance in tactical evasion and reconnaissance” concept from prior independent research and development work as part of Sprint 4 of the OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics demonstration.

The lab used virtual unmanned aerial vehicles during the first six-month phase of the sprint before testing physical fixed-wing aircraft in virtual mesh environments from DARPA’s urban testing activities.

In August 2020, the team conducted the drone-swarm flight test at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.

Joseph Moore, project manager of the research and exploratory development department team at APL, said the team’s goal is to control high-speed UAVs in urban outdoor settings without causing too much damage.

Raytheon Technologies and Northrop Grumman serve as system integrators for the OFFSET program and are developing simulated environments for large-scale drone swarms.

DARPA envisions the OFFSET program to enable a maximum of 250 autonomous systems to operate as a swarm to support ground troops in dense urban environments.

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