New technology enables drones to swarm like insects in the sky

Boeing engineers have created a new technology that can significantly lower operating costs of drones and allow them to function like a 'swarm of insects', completing tasks quickly by communicating and acting together.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University tested the 'swarm' technology in Oregon for several days in June, using two ScanEagle UAVs, Boeing said in a statement.

An operator on the ground, using only a laptop and a military radio, can command an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) swarm, task them and obtain information without using a ground control station.

"Swarm network technology has the potential to offer more missions at less risk and lower operating costs," said Gabriel Santander, programme director of Advanced Autonomous Networks for Boeing Phantom Works.

"This swarm technology may one day enable warfighters in battle to request and receive time-critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information directly from airborne UAVs much sooner than they can from ground control stations today," Santander said.

The technology will be on display in the AUVSI Unmanned Systems North America 2012 conference.

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