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Boeing shows UAS swarm technology

Aug. 22, 2011 at 8:48 AM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 22 (UPI) -- Boeing reports it successfully demonstrated autonomous communications and operation of dissimilar unmanned aerial vehicles in flight tests over Oregon.

The test mission, which occurred last month, used two ScanEagles manufactured by Boeing subsidiary Insitu and one Procerus Unicorn from The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

The UAVs communicated using a mobile ad hoc network and swarm technology developed by JHU/APL.

Swarm technology is similar to how insects communicate and perform tasks as a group. The UAVs worked together to search the test area through self-generating waypoints and terrain mapping, while simultaneously sending information to teams on the ground.

"This is a milestone in UAV flight," said Gabriel Santander, Boeing Advanced Autonomous Networks program director and team leader. "The test team proved that these unmanned aircraft can collect and use data while communicating with each other to support a unified mission.

"This swarm technology may one day be used for search-and-rescue missions or identifying enemy threats ahead of ground patrols."

The ScanEagle system also recently took part in the successful test of a Boeing-developed narrowband communications relay that was used to link hand-held radios in the mountains of California.

Swarm technology demonstrations are being conducted under a collaborative agreement between Boeing and JHU/APL, which is a University Affiliated Research Center and a division of Johns Hopkins University.

Boeing said a broader swarm technology test will be conducted next month.

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