Swarm of small UAVs are used in Navy’s LOCUST demonstrations
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. Officials at the Office of Naval Research (ONR) announced a recent demonstration of the Low-Cost UAV Swarming Technology (LOCUST) Program. The exercise demonstrated technology of cooperative swarming of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
LOCUST can autonomously launch UAVs and overwhelm an enemy providing tactical advantage to sailors and marines. The launcher and UAVs have small footprint technology that enables swarms of compact UAVs to take off from ships, tactical vehicles, aircraft, or other unmanned vehicles.
LOCUST includes a tube-based launcher that sends UAVs into the air in rapid succession. The program uses information-sharing technology between the UAVs, allowing them to collaborate autonomously in defensive and offensive missions.
The demonstration included the BAE Systems three-foot long Coyote drones, which can be controlled via a line-of-sight radio link or have its path preprogrammed. By integrating the Coyote drone for autonomous flights, LOCUST takes a step towards cost-effective unmanned operations increasing the security and lives of military personnel. The launch of Coyote UAVs demonstrated the capabilities of carrying varying payloads for different missions.
In another technological demonstration, nine UAVs achieved autonomous UAV synchronization and formation flight.
“UAVs that are expendable and reconfigurable will free manned aircraft and traditional weapon systems to do more, and essentially multiply combat power at decreased risk to the warfighter,” says ONR program manager Lee Mastroianni.
In 2016, the Navy plans to do a ship-based demonstration using 30 swarming UAVs.