The Pentagon has developed a technology that allows a single human to control 130 drones for military missions.
Raytheon’s research is being carried out in partnership with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). In indoor and outdoor urban settings, the researchers successfully tested its terrifying new gadget.
The “OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics” (OFFSET) swarm consists of 130 real drones and 30 simulated drones. The swarm’s technology allows an operator to command a swarm with “little training,” according to Raytheon.
“Controlling a drone swarm changes the way an operator or group of operators think about the drones. Takeaways from this exercise help inform us of the inflection points between utility and manageability,” said Shane Clark, the principal investigator of OFFSET at Raytheon.
The swarm’s operator will not use a joystick. Instead, he’ll use a virtual reality interface enabling the operator to examine each drone separately. The upshot is an “interactive virtual view of the environment.”
“You can look behind the building to access a view of drone locations, for example, and use the virtual reality environment to test and see if your mission is viable,” Clark explained.
In addition, the researchers developed a speech interface that allows operators to issue voice commands to the swarm. This will enable the controller to “act swiftly while preserving situational awareness,” Clark added.
The sight of a swarm of drones going into battle is enthralling. However, the idea that they can be operated by a single person using virtual reality and voice commands is astounding.