HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif., 7 Aug. 2012. Boeing [NYSE: BA] and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL) have demonstrated that an operator on the ground, using just a laptop and a military radio, can command an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) "swarm." With only limited flight training, the operator was able to connect with autonomous UAVs, task them and obtain information without using a ground control station.
The team conducted flight tests in Oregon for several days in June, using two ScanEagle UAVs manufactured by Boeing subsidiary Insitu and swarm technology developed by the JHU/APL. The technology allows UAVs to perform similarly to a swarm of insects, completing tasks by communicating and acting together.
Boeing and JHU/APL conducted two tests last year in which dissimilar unmanned platforms across air, land and sea domains collaborated to autonomously conduct searches and communicate information.
The hope for swarm technology is that it will enable warfighters in battle to request and receive time-critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information directly from airborne UAVs sooner than they could from ground control stations today.
The demonstrations are conducted under a collaborative agreement between Boeing and JHU/APL, a University affiliated research center and a division of Johns Hopkins University that has been addressing national challenges through the application of science and technology. It maintains a staff of about 5,000 on its Laurel, Md., campus.
UAV swarm technology is one of Boeing's many C4ISR capabilities that provide a flow of information, from collection to aggregation to analysis, for situational awareness purposes.