The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has tested the teaming ability of small air and ground systems when performing different tasks in simulated urban areas without human intervention.
DARPA said Wednesday industry and university researchers updated software and commercial sensors in small quadcopters that were demonstrated through phase 2 of flight tests under the agency’s Fast Lightweight Autonomy program.
The autonomous drones were able to fly in between buildings and through narrow areas during the demonstration.
“Unmanned systems equipped with FLA algorithms need no remote pilot, no GPS guidance, no communications link, and no pre-programmed map of the area – the onboard software, lightweight processor, and low-cost sensors do all the work autonomously in real time,” said John-Charles Lede, program manager at DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office.
Researchers completed the first phase of flight tests last year.
DARPA launched the FLA applied research program in 2015 with the goal to leverage autonomy algorithms to manage lightweight quadcopters with short operational lifespans and limited computer processing capability onboard.