Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Air Force, DIUx Seeking Out 'Ender’s Game' Technology to Enable Drone Swarms

Air Force, DIUx Seeking Out 'Ender’s Game' Technology to Enable Drone Swarms: In the classic sci-fi book Ender’s Game, the title character manages thousands of aircraft with a swipe of his hand.

That’s the kind of command-and-control capability the Air Force needs to have for future drone swarms, Col. Brandon “BB” Baker, chief of the Air Force’s remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) capabilities division, said during an Oct. 26 speech at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International conference.

Artificial intelligence and autonomy are advancing to the point where, in the near future, unmanned aircraft will no longer need pilots to move small drones with a stick and rudder, he said. "I need a way to orchestrate swarms, for instance, or a loyal wingman that's independent of our common structures that we have today, our common ground station that we have today.”

The Air Force has asked Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) — the Pentagon’s outpost in Silicon Valley — to seek out technologies that could help transition the service from a common ground station that flies a single aircraft to a command-and-control cell with the ability to direct a swarm of small unmanned aerial systems (UAS). DIUx is working with commercial industry, particularly gaming companies, and will “create a presentation that’s a cross between Ender’s Game and Minority Report,” Baker said.