The Drone End Game

The Air Force has tasked the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit Experimental in Silicon Valley to work with industry to figure out new ways to control small unmanned aerial systems, Col. Brandon Baker, director of remotely piloted aircraft capabilities, said Wednesday. Speaking at an Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International event in Arlington, Va., Baker said airmen should be able to control unmanned wingmen or orchestrate swarms of SUASs without the common ground control station used to pilot the service’s remotely piloted aircraft today. He said he titled his request to the tech hub “Ender’s Game,” in reference to the science fiction novel in which the protagonist was able to control mass numbers of platforms with the wa?ve of a hand. “I don’t think that’s too far-fetched for where we’re going in the future,” he said. DIUx is working with companies inside the gaming industry among others to find the solution. Baker said the development of technologies—including in command and control, antenna miniaturization, processing power, and power distances—will allow the service to employ SUASs globally. “We anticipate we’re going to be able to miniaturize more and more so that one day, we can, no kidding, darken the skies and apply mass against an enemy…that overwhelming mass has made us successful as a military as long as we’ve existed.”