When we last checked in on Navy drones, they were developing a fish-like apparatus called the GhostSwimmer to secure the seas. In their latest technology inspired by nature, they take to the skies in these insect-like drones.
They are appropriately named LOCUST, Low-Cost UAV Swarming Technology, (Are you supposed to put an acronym inside an acronym?) and they plan on making it difficult for the enemy to disable them because they fly in swarms. The Navy’s Office of Naval Research presented a demonstration of the exciting prototype drones.
The UAVs are shot out from this launcher and once in the air, wings unfold out allowing them to fly. Once several of them are in flight, they will swarm together autonomously and collaborate for both offensive and defensive missions. The philosophy is that there will not be one large drone to shoot down, but several smaller UAVs that will overwhelm the enemy.
These new drones reduce hazards and free personnel to perform more complex tasks, as well as requiring fewer people to do multiple missions. Though the UAVs are autonomous, there will always be a human monitoring the mission, and will have the ability to manually control the drones.
“This level of autonomous swarming flight has never been done before,” said ONR program manager Lee Mastroianni. “UAVs that are expendable and reconfigurable will free manned aircraft and traditional weapon systems to do more, and essentially multiply combat power at decreased risk to the warfighter.”
They are even cost-effective. Hundreds of these small autonomous UAVs cost less than a single tactical aircraft.
The Navy plans on testing the technology on a ship-based launcher that will rapidly fire out 30 of the drones in 2016.
This is all fine and dandy, up until the second Skynet becomes self-aware.