Boeing demonstrates swarm technology with UAV search mission

ScanEagle ready for launch

Individually, insects have proven a deep well of inspiration for robotics engineers looking to mimic designs refined over millions of years of evolution. Now Boeing has demonstrated swarm technology for reconnaissance missions using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that is similar to the way insects communicate and work together as an intelligent group. Potential uses for the technology include search-and-rescue missions and identifying enemy threats ahead of ground patrols.

In flight tests over the rugged terrain of eastern Oregon last month, different types of UAVs worked together to search the test area by autonomously generating waypoints and mapping the terrain, while simultaneously sending information to teams on the ground. The mission used two Insitu-manufactured ScanEagles and one Procerus Unicorn from The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL), which communicated using a Mobile Ad Hoc Network and swarm technology developed by JHU/APL.

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.”

JHU/APL principal investigator Dave Scheidt says that the decentralized swarm technology demonstrated in the flight tests has the potential to improve response times while reducing manning requirements when compared to current systems. A broader demonstration of the swarm technology is planned for next month.

Rock on! Living in the southern Rockies we get to witness search-and-rescue technology at work all too often. The better and faster we can make it – the better it will be for folks who look for adventures in the wilderness.

iPhones and the ‘augmented’ stadium

Researchers are creating software that links fans’ smartphones into a network so they can easily share messages, images and video.

The software could prove a boon for seated events when friends are not able to sit together but want to chat about the on-field action.

It could also help them include fans and friends who did not manage to get tickets to a match…

“We are not trying to take away from the quality of the football match, we are trying to augment it,” said Dr Matthew Chalmers, a reader in computer science at the University of Glasgow and principal investigator on the “smart stadium” project.

The researchers are working with the Tartan Army – fans who travel round the world following local Scottish football teams and the national side. Some Tartan Army fans have been given Apple iPhones fitted with prototypes of the software Dr Chalmers and his co-workers are developing…

For instance, he said, key members of supporter groups cannot sometimes travel to a match but want to keep up with what happens before, during and after…

The researchers also plan to use the Bluetooth short-range wireless technology built into most smartphones as a messaging system so those attending a match can keep in touch or share media.

He added that the researchers plan to release the software as a free mobile application so that anyone can use it.

Interesting they decided to drop Windows Mobile and switched to the iPhone early on.

Though it’s being developed for fans of [proper] football in the UK, I can see American sports fans – especially baseball and [American] football – enjoying the capabilities of a software and hardware combo like this. Even golf would work – fans wouldn’t have to whisper, they could text their comments.

Cripes – I’d load it onto my laptop Mac in the living room and use it to follow along a match from the Prem or the SPL. I’d love it.