UK Army tested swarm drones for military use

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Army officials in the UK say they’ve successfully tested military use of drone swarms, calling it ground-breaking.

A release by the Army said its nano-Uncrewed Aerial Systems (nUAS) project conducted a series of trials using single-pilot swarms of four to six drones. In addition to the technical capacities demonstrated in the tests, officials say the program also broke new regulatory ground. It was the first flight of multiple-UAV controlled by a single operator authorized by the country’s Military Aviation Authority, a precedent organizers hope will facilitate future approvals.

This is a real amplifier, adding capacity, force protection, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities… (which) will not only assist in our targeting but also in our strike capability, therefore making us more lethal at range which will protect our very valuable forces and people.

Dominic Ferrett, lead engineer in the UK Army tests

The UK Army demonstrations used two types of drone systems for swarm operation by one pilot. The first, called Atlas, involved four UAVs flown manually with a tablet serving as a controller. The second, Elbit, called for the pilot to program autonomous flight of six different craft – either as part of the same mission or flying half a dozen separate ones at once.

The result, organizers say, was not only confirmation that UK Army pilots can effectively operate drone swarms on their lonesome, but also in showing that by mixing manual and automated control, the range of aerial activity performed can be multiplied.

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