Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
Government The Military Transportation Robotics Science Technology

Pentagon Successfully Tests Micro-Drone Swarm ( 113

schwit1 quotes a report from Phys.Org: The Pentagon may soon be unleashing a 21st-century version of locusts on its adversaries after officials on Monday said it had successfully tested a swarm of 103 micro-drones. The important step in the development of new autonomous weapon systems was made possible by improvements in artificial intelligence, holding open the possibility that groups of small robots could act together under human direction. Military strategists have high hopes for such drone swarms that would be cheap to produce and able to overwhelm opponents' defenses with their great numbers. The test of the micro-drone swarm in October included 103 Perdix micro-drones measuring around six inches (16 centimeters) launched from three F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets, the Pentagon said in a statement.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Pentagon Successfully Tests Micro-Drone Swarm

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Oh goody goody yet more deadly weapons, we sure do need more of those! Not like the current balance of power was working or anything.

    Give them all little nerve-gas-filled stingers and facial-recognition abilities and that boot stamping on our face need never lift.

  • by Dzimas ( 547818 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2017 @06:14PM (#53644577)

    WWI saw brutal mechanization and trench warfare, WWII brought us aerial bombardment and the Blitzkrieg. And now it looks like WWIII will offer up the excitement of being hunted to extinction by autonomous drones.

    • My money is on "Yes. We've cured cancer" [designer DNA biotech stuff].... six months later begins the Mad Max world.


      Nano-tech... "This stuff eats oil spills".. six months later begins the Mad Max world.

    • "The wars of the future will not be fought on the battlefield or at sea. They will be fought in space, or possibly on top of a very tall mountain. In either case, most of the actual fighting will be done by small robots. And as you go forth today remember always your duty is clear: To build and maintain those robots."

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      I worry about the second variety of drones.

  • by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2017 @06:16PM (#53644587) Homepage

    It seems like a co-ordinated swarm of drones would be a good way to neutralize someone who has decided to go on a shooting spree. They could either attack the shooter or simply swarm around him so that he can't see where he is going, and shooting at them wouldn't be particularly effective since they are small, fast, and there are so many of them.

    Well, someday, maybe.

    • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

      I'm having a hard time imagining how a swarm of these would be any more than a mild inconvenience to someone determined enough to do a shooting spree.

    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      Hmmm....seems quite close to the Internet of Shit and the plans the appliance manufacturers have for making everything "smart". In your home, you will be surrounded by some immovable drones, all talking to one another, keeping tabs on you...until...they start talking to the Roomba and the new smart tools and learn how to become mobile.

  • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2017 @06:20PM (#53644611) Journal
    Here's a link to a neat video [] of the exercise.
  • Neal Stephenson floated a similar idea in Seveneves. Rather than dumb hunks of metal, combatants would fire autonomous drone-like projectiles at their enemies that would hunt them down through foliage and around corners. And since the enemy has them too, some drone projectiles would specialize in defensive work - forming a cloud around their user, attempting to absorb projectiles or neutralize attacking drones.

    In the story it was a technology developed out of necessity, for combat off-planet in enclosed s

  • I wonder what payload the military have planned for these to carry.

  • not so micro (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2017 @06:54PM (#53644823)

    Here's a picture of one and it's not what I would call "micro". []

  • There's the signature nightmare and PTSD trigger for the next war.

    At a few hundred dollars a pop, with a stationkeeping aerostat above them to charge them up, you could have hundreds of screaming mosquitoes blanketing the front line -all- -the- -time-. Relentless.

  • At least this is what I see are drones placing piloted fighter jets in same category as horse cavalrys when the tank comes along.
  • Reminds me of... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by D00MSlayer ( 4607893 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2017 @07:50PM (#53645109)

    Protoss Carriers.

  • Jet Killers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2017 @08:08PM (#53645211)
    Imagine a combat zone with enemy jets swooping in to find a swarm of stealthy drones each with a piece of tungsten about to be sucked into their engines. Or drones that could ignite magnesium ribbons to confuse heat seeking missiles. Drones close to the ground dragging around magnesium ribbons could make the use of rifles or any weapon that required eyesight or night vision to be useless. Drones that were a bit larger could drop tiny devices that would put a bit of something like cobra venom on any enemy below. Since a tear drop will do one drone could drop many thousands of such weapons. It would not matter if it hit a hand, a foot or a shoulder. That soldier would be dead meat.
  • Out of 500 that were dropped? Uh-ha.
  • Was this a test of swarm technology or of dropping drones from an F/A 18? one did not require the other - this looks like a publicity stunt, not a test.

  • Two big drones with a really wide net.

    Or many small drones dangling ropes?

    Just posting out loud...
  • "Hated In the Nation"

  • yeah, but if you play classical music at them really loud, they all explode.

  • The Perdix drones are based on this MIT student project [], which was then turned over to Lincoln Labs for further development.

    • by joh ( 27088 )

      This would be actually a neat design even for more harmless (and fun) uses. Compact and sturdy in stowed configuration too.

  • Nope, I don't see any potential problem with AI controlled swarms of killer wasps.

  • I wonder if these devices will come back to bite the people who made and implemented them?
  • 60 Minutes reported on this last Sunday []

  • The U.S. military's single greatest asset is its ability/willingness to outspend every other military on earth by a huge margin. Any weapon that's cheap to produce is bad for them. It's a weapon their enemies can get too. Democratizing warfare is not good for them.

    Of course, it's not good for anyone else either. Just wait for the first terror attack where a swarm of drones flies through a city killing people.

  • Michael Crichton was so ahead of his time. The microdrones would need to be replaced with self-assembling nanorobots but still. Even the sound is getting close to that of his "dust devils".

In English, every word can be verbed. Would that it were so in our programming languages.