While companies like Amazon have ambitious plans for advancing drones to deliver packages, it comes as no surprise that the U.S. military has enterprising plans to advance autonomous flying vehicles too. As remote control assassins, the U.S. military has recorded more than 1,000 deaths from long distance remote drone strikes since 2002. Last night the CBS show “60 Minutes reran an episode covering a new autonomous drone swarm named Perdix. The tiny drone swarms are launched from weapon mounts of F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets and behave like swarming insects, communicating with each other to decide how to collectively fulfill their programmed mission. Collective is the key word here as the drone swarm are not pre-programmed synchronized individuals per se. Instead, they act as a collective organism adapting to each other like swarms in nature, performing adaptive formation flying and sharing one distributed brain for their decision-making. Perdix was originally designed in 2011 by MIT engineering students, and has been mostly used for reconnaissance and surveillance so far. However, the military is now exploring arming the drone swarms.
The military won’t have to look far for new ideas on how to arm their smaller drones as a Florida startup Duke Robotics, has recently come out with a drone quadcopter prototype that can carry and fire a variety of high powered weapons from a machine gun to a rocket launcher. The relatively small TIKAD drone can carry up to a 22 pound weapon suspended from its undercarriage and is remotely operated. One of the TIKAD’s big technological advancements is that it has been designed to absorb recoil motion using “a unique suppression firing and stabilization solution” to handle the blow-back when firing a weapon while in flight. The drone has already been ordered by the Israeli military and is being pitched for use by the US military. It is being peddled as an urban combat ‘future soldier’ precision weapon to reduce the number of boots on the ground in conflict situations.