The speculation that drones will take a predominantly military role seems to be turning into a reality, and fast. The United States Military officials have just announced that they have released the largest ever drone swarm from flying fighter jets. Three F/A-18 Super Hornets were used to drop down 103 Perdix drones, equipped with the ability to communicate along with the skill to perform a series of flying formations mimicking a surveillance mission.
Interestingly, each drone cannot work by itself, and there has to be a swarm of drones to perform the tasks collectively. William Roper of the Department of Defense elaborated in a statement:
“Perdix are not pre-programmed synchronized individuals, they are a collective organism, sharing one distributed brain for decision-making and adapting to each other like swarms in nature. Because every Perdix communicates and collaborates with every other Perdix, the swarm has no leader and can gracefully adapt to drones entering or exiting the team.”
While it may sound like it’s a simple task, releasing drones from a fast-moving jet is anything but straightforward; as the high speeds and turbulence can cause severe damage. The Perdix drone also suffered the same fate for a lot of times, and this is the sixth iteration by their designers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The drones from this iteration are finally able to withstand speeds of Mach 0.6 and temperatures of -10 °C upon drop down.
As claimed by the Washington Post, the drones are part of a $20 million Pentagon program to beef up the current fleet of military drone presence. These relatively cheap, lightweight and easy to create drones are becoming a priority in a bid to replace the much larger and high maintenance drones like the Reaper for performing similar surveillance missions.
The Pentagon has also created their private innovation organization, the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, to create potent fleets of the micro-drones.
What are your thoughts on the usage of drones as a primary military weapon? Comment below!
(Read more: The Washington Post, “The Pentagon’s Innovation Experiment”)