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DARPA Concludes Final Drone Swarm Control Tech Experiment; Timothy Chung Quoted

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The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has concluded the final field experiment of a program intended to test the ability of small-unit infantry forces to operate a swarm of unmanned aircraft vehicles and autonomous ground systems in urban environments.

The sixth Offensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics field experiment was held at the Cassidy Combined Arms Collective Training Facility in Fort Campbell, Tennessee, and tested open swarm architecture systems with hundreds of unmanned platforms, DARPA said Thursday.

Under the OFFSET program, systems integrators Northrop Grumman and Raytheon BBN Technologies developed swarm systems architectures with immersive interfaces for human-swarm teaming and physical testbeds.

The latest experiment demonstrated the use of immersive interfaces, including virtual reality, augmented reality, sketch tablets and mobile phones, to command and control swarm agents.

“We have demonstrated in the field that these swarm capabilities are rapidly nearing availability for future operations, and the lessons learned from OFFSET will certainly contribute to future swarm advancements,” said Timothy Chung, the OFFSET program manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office.

Sentien Robotics also exhibited its HiveXL drone carrier units designed to automate all aspects of drone operations. Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory exhibited multiple fixed-wing aircraft built to operate in complex urban environments and Michigan Tech Research Institute supported the virtual part of the experiment.