Raytheon details plans for drone swarm technology

By Luke Geiver | March 27, 2018

Raytheon is sprinting into the drone swarming market. The technology developer that specializes in defense, civil government and cybersecurity solutions, is developing a new technology suite capable of directing and controlling swarms of small autonomous air and ground vehicles. Working under DARPA’s Offensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics program, Raytheon is making a system that features three elements: a visual interface that allows “drag and drop” creation and manipulation of drone tactics; a game-based simulator to evaluate those tactics; and a physical swarm testbed to perform live tactics evaluations.

Shane Clark, principal investigator on the program with DARPA, said that operators could use speech or gestures to control the swarm which provides a tremendous advantage during operations. “The system provides sensor feeds and mission status indicators for complete situational awareness,” he said.

The recent work by Raytheon in drone swarming tech isn’t the company’s first. In 2016 the entity conducted demonstrations that netted together 30 Coyote UAVs in a swarm. That work was completed through the Office of Naval Research LOCUST program.

In addition to Raytheon’s participation, DARPA is also inviting other group’s to offer insight on drone swarm technology. Such groups can participate as “sprinters,” through an open broad agency agreement. According to DARPA, Sprinters can create their own novel swarm tactics and the Raytehon team will work with them to evaluate tactics in simulation and possibly field live trials.

The OFFSET program ran by DARPA is structured to demonstrate its technologies through frequent live experiments with various unmanned vehicles. The tests should take place every six months.