Raytheon demonstrates swarm technology in DARPA’s fifth field exercise

Raytheon Intelligence & Space (RIS) has demonstrated its swarm technology in the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) fifth OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) program field exercise.

During this field exercise, a single operator successfully controlled a swarm using the solution developed by a Raytheon BBN Technologies-led team.

The swarm consisted of 130 physical drone platforms and 30 simulated drone platforms in an urban scenario.

The team used a combination of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) and custom-built hardware and software to deliver swarm autonomy in the exercise.

With very little training, a single operator or group of operators were successful in directing and handling the activities of autonomous air and ground vehicles.

Raytheon BBN OFFSET principal investigator Shane Clark said: “Controlling a drone swarm changes the way an operator or group of operators think about the drones.

“Takeaways from this exercise help inform us of the inflection points between utility and manageability.”

Furthermore, the Raytheon BBN team also developed and established a ‘scalable, modular and decentralized approach’ to handle several existing and future platforms and operations.

The Raytheon BBN team also built a virtual reality (VR) interface to help deal with the challenges of human swarm interfaces.

Clark added: “You can look behind the building to access a view of drone locations, for example, and use the virtual reality environment to test and see if your mission is viable.

“We also developed a speech interface with the operationally deployed Tactical Assault Kit, or TAK, integration capability that enables the operator to act quickly while maintaining situational awareness over many systems simultaneously.”

Last month, the DARPA team working on the OFFSET completed the final field experiment (FX-6).