While different countries building, deploying, and selling large airplane-sized drones for military purposes, small-scale drones are still gaining a foothold. The small-scale drone is expected to become more viable as a possible weapon, and it is that preparation for the future that is driving the swarming project.
“Right now there’s hardly anyone doing swarms. Most people are flying one, maybe two, but any time you can get more than one or two in the air at the same time, and control them by waypoint with one laptop, that’s important,” said James Story, an engineer with the Targets Management Office PEO STRI, one of the groups involved in the project.
Normally used by hobbyists and photographers, the quadcopter-style drones don’t represent a huge threat in their current state. The tiny aircraft have a flight time of only a few minutes, and have a limited payload capacity. The concern comes from the affordability of the off-the-shelf systems. Small military drones, custom designed for the military mission, and outfitted with the latest hardware can be expensive.
“You’re controlling all five of them, and all five of them are a threat. Even if you defeat one or two, if one of them slips past the guard, that can pose a problem,” said Michael Francis, Integrated Product Team lead for the Multirotor
Interesting story about a forward-looking bunch of engineers figuring out how to turn cheap consumer drones into scary weapons.