Academies Compete in UAV Swarm Experiment

A DARPA-led effort pitting students from different military service academies against each other to develop the best UAV swarm tactics kicked off on Sunday at Camp Roberts California National Guard post. The three-day, live-fly competition is the culmination of a series of year-long capstone design courses at the US Air Force Academy, the US Military Academy, and the US Naval Academy. DARPA provided teams from each school with a total of 40 fixed-wing and rotary UAVs—along with required software and basic swarm tactics—and then asked the teams to develop their own advanced procedures. The goal, DARPA said in a press release, is to encourage the cadets and midshipmen to “develop innovative offensive and defensive tactics for swarms of small UAVs.” In the competition, students are given a “Battle Cube” of defined airspace, within which they try to score points on their opponent through simulated air-to-air or air-to-ground strikes, or by “launching as many UAVs as quickly as possible and keeping them aloft as long as possible.” DARPA hopes the live-fly competition will help the students develop innovative “capabilities with potentially near-term applicability for operational training and fielding.”