Later this year, the US Marine Corps and the Army will be studying UAV swarm behavior at the Edge 22 (Experimental Demonstration Gateway Exercise) – an exercise being held within Project Convergence. Project Convergence is an annual campaign of learning to evaluate how the Army will fight with modernized equipment and advanced capabilities. The US Army plans to include seven international allies in Edge 22, which will focus on networks and interoperability as part of seven “key” exercise objectives.
Though insect swarms have previously served as models of drone swarming behavior, current studies are looking at wolf packs. In a wolf pack, there is an alpha who serves as the leader, while each participant has a defined role according to a hierarchy. If one member of the pack fails at a task, another pack member can take its place.
The Army has been partnering with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to better understand this swarm behavior. In the exercise, the swarm will demonstrate some unclassified behaviors, including: the ability to detect, identify, locate and report; geolocation; electronic warfare; collaborative operations and cooperative search using algorithms and patterns; and navigating in a GPS-denied environment. The Army will also have lethal effects in the swarm so a drone can neutralize a target, along with other classified projects.
One of the goals of Edge 22 is to examine how a swarm that loses some UAVs will behave, with the eventual goal of translating these capabilities into software updates and software update packages for the UAV.