U.S. Military Successfully Test Drone Swarm Technology

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An image of four Perdix mini-drones flying in formation.

The U.S. military has been testing a novel micro-drone capable of being deploying and swarming in massive numbers. The last major test saw 103 ‘Perdix’ drones being released from three F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters in California. The drones completed three missions successfully before being recalled. The system is currently marked for surveillance purposes.

An image showing an F/A-18 Super Hornet launching a swarm of Perdix Drones. A close up shot that shows the drones exiting their container.
Close up of Perdix Drones launching from a Super Hornet.

Although far from being fully operational, the October test allowed the Perdix drones to display their capabilities in completing a multi-mission scenario. The 103 drones were released from three F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets over China Lake in California. Once released, the swarm successfully used its distributed “brain” to rapidly assemble as a group and “overwhelm” a virtual target.

Perdix drone wingspans measure 30 centimeters (12 inches), enabling high levels of maneuverability to evade air defense systems.

“Perdix are not pre-programmed synchronized individuals, they are a collective organism, sharing one distributed brain for decision-making and adapting to each other like swarms in nature,” William Roper, the director of the Strategic Capabilities Office. “Because every Perdix communicates and collaborates with every other Perdix, the swarm has no leader and can gracefully adapt to drones entering or exiting the team.”

The Perdix drones are one of many similar programs within the U.S. military. Other drone swarm technology being researched includes the U.S. Navy’s Low-Cost UAV Swarming Technology (LOCUST) program, and DARPA’s stealth technology “vampire drones.” Perdix also has a counterpart in China, whose state-owned China Electronics Technology Group Corporation showcased 67 swarming drones late last year.

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