This post is also available in: עברית (Hebrew)
A world record was set for the largest drone swarm ever deployed during an aerial show in China. A swarm of 1,180 coordinated drones created striking formations for nine minutes, giving a glimpse into the potential future of aviation.
The drones, provided by Ehang UAVs, were coordinated autonomously, with a flight deviancy of a mere 2 centimeters horizontally and 1 centimeter vertically. If something goes wrong and a drone can’t reach its programmed position, it automatically lands.
The potential for the military and security sectors was clear. The fact that the drones can move autonomously, landing if they don’t fulfill their directive, is particularly intriguing, according to popsci.com.
The company is essentially boasting that its swarms can make decisions on how to repair itself, as well as improvise operational functionality.
Already in 2016, the China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) and Tsinghua University released a video of a swarm zooming in improvised, network-generated flight patterns. Though this drone swarm was unarmed, a CGI sequence showed the drones hunting an enemy missile launcher in an urban area, and then dive-bombing into the missile launcher, destroying it. In June 2017, a swarm of 117 drones was launched.
China also is looking at taking its drone swarms into near space, alongside a planned arsenal of anti-stealth drones, hypersonic spy planes and high-altitude airships. In fall 2017, the Chinese Academy of Sciences used high-altitude balloons to release two shoebox-sized, flying-wing drones that flew downward. Those high-altitude micro UAVs have passive sensors for detecting electromagnetic activity and can map terrain.
Similarly to the Perdix system drone swarm showed off by the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office, the Chinese Academy of Science’s flock could be released by fighters, bombers, and other drones.