Most drones fly high above the terrain, connected to their human operators, alone, one by one for now. The main beneficiary of this semi-unmanned technology has been the army so far. Fly alone, identify the target, controlled from the center the get the green light to launch the missile.
The autonomous drone of the future are independent and no longer alone, instead, fly and swim in groups. Just like locusts, we’ll have swarms of drones, communicating to each other and surrounding environment, like a mobile network of connected robots.
Passed The “Idea” Stage, We Are Developing
US Navy has a program called UAV Swarming Technology (Locust) where is developing unmanned autonomous drones that can be launched from a cannon and “swarm” in a co-ordinated attack. These autonomous drones fly in formation and overwhelm the adversary. Locust system can be deployed from ships, aircraft or land vehicles.
The Naval Postgraduate College also has an active project called “Explore Defensive Swarming Strategies to Counter UAVs “live-fly experiments involving 50 versus 50 UAVs”.
Researchers at the University of Ganz Artificial Life Laboratory in Austria are running the world’s largest underwater autonomous swarm of drones called “CoCoRo”.
“CoCoRo” builds intelligent, connected, swarms of swimming bots that can get tasks done faster, together. The CoCoRo swarm project is composed of 41 bots. There is the boat-like base-station connected to saucer-like Lilydrones and fish-like Jeff aquatic vehicles.
CoCoRo researchers compare the intelligence of biological organism to the swarm of drones, to replicate and cast new light on existing interpretations in the fields of biology, meta-cognition, and psychology. When ready, they’ll apply the findings in commercial applications.
Autonomous Drones Will Create New Jobs
Are there new jobs to be created? What if governments and their regulations will limit the potential applications for drone swarms? Are there any practical applications for swarms of drones apart from the Army?
Imagine ubiquitous, intelligent, unmanned air and water drones, performing complex tasks. By combining intricate algorithms and using continuous IoE data, we can define rules and control this “collaborative intelligence” and get the swarm of drones, to better serve the humans.
There are companies already developing applications for search and rescue, environmental monitoring, agriculture, shipping, security, to name a few. Expect 100,000 new jobs in U.S. alone. With the market potential estimated at over $82 billion for airborne drones, venture capitalists and corporations are flocking to invest in autonomous drones start-ups all over the world.