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The U.S. military lets swarms of mini drones fly

A reconnaissance flight is only successful if the scout returns and reports. Chances are much better in a swarm.

26 Jan. 2017
The U.S. military lets swarms of mini drones fly. (Photo: Youtube/Go Ran)

The American military has been experimenting for some time now with Perdix mini drones that are dropped by the dozens from fighter aircraft and then form swarms with their own distributed intelligence. A video demonstrates how 103 mini drones come together to form a unit and then complete four missions. Each Perdix drone is networked with all the others, enabling collective decision-making and more adaptable formation flying. The inexpensive aircraft, which are partly manufactured with 3D printing, are primarily intended to carry out reconnaissance and surveillance flights.

The Perdix drones are the result of a student project at MIT and are now being further developed by the military. According to the specification sheet , they are driven by a rear propeller, are about 16 cm long, have a wingspan of about 27 cm, and can stay aloft for about 20 minutes thanks to the power supplied by their lithium-polymer batteries. The development project thus picks up on the idea that originally gave rise to the internet: high functional tolerance despite the failure of individual nodes. The Perdix swarm can easily cope with loss of individual drones.