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China Makes Record Flying a Swarm of 1,180 Advanced Micro-drones in an Aerial Show

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Aviation strikes gold as China witnessed an unprecedented aerial show of the largest drone swarm ever, deploying a massive 1,180 coordinated drones that created spectacular formations for nine minutes.

Although the Pentagon carried out tests in October 2016 on a swarm of 103 micro-drones launched from planes in California, the confidential information was made public only by the Department of Defense (DoD).
The Strategic Capabilities Office, partnering with Naval Air Systems Command successfully conducted the pathbreaking demonstration of the advanced micro-drone swarms at China Lake, California, covered on CBS News Program “60 Minutes”, of 103 Perdix drones launched from 3 F/A-18 Super Hornet planes.

The Chinese technological company, Ehang’s UAVs, supplied these remarkable drones that were autonomously coordinated, with very slight flight deviancy of 1cm vertically and 2 cm horizontally. In case of contingent situations of default, the drones can land automatically.

This is the kind of cutting-edge innovation that will keep us a step ahead of our adversaries. This demonstration will advance our development of autonomous systems – Ash Carter, Secretary of Defence who created SCO in 2012

This impressive feat in aviation unlocks a whole new wealth of potential for the military and security sectors. The autonomous landing of the drones if and when they cannot comply with their directives is both impressive and rather incredible.

It might even appear that the company is making big claims regarding its swarms and its ability to improvise its designated operational functionality and make decisions for self-repair.

Back in 2016, the China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) and Tsinghua University released a captivating video of a swarm zooming in on improvised, network-generated flight patterns. Albeit unarmed, a CGI sequence showed the drones in hot pursuit of an enemy launcher detected in an urban area and then dive-bombing into the missile launcher, finishing it off.

2017 witnessed the launch of a swarm of 117 drones. What’s more, China is working well into its drive to take its drone swarm into near space, beside an organized arsenal of anti-stealth drones, hypersonic spy planes, and high-altitude airships. The Chinese Academy of Sciences deployed high-altitude balloons to release two shoebox-sized flying-wing drones that interestingly took a downward flight. The drones are powered by high-altitude micro UAVs with passive sensors for detecting electromagnetic activity and terrain mapping.

Like the Perdix system drone swarm proudly showcased by the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office, the Chinese Academy of Science’s swarm could also be deployed by bombers, fighters, and other drones.

Due to the complex nature of combat, 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.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 – William Roper, SCO director

Furthermore, Roper pointed out that the department’s conception of the future battle network was one whereof humans will always be in the loop as autonomous machines being developed by the DoD, such as the micro-drones, will empower humans to make more efficient decisions in a bit.

The launch of the micro-drones with advanced swarm behaviors of collective decision-making, self-healing, and adaptive formation spells out a bright future for the aviation industry as a whole and the military domain in particular.


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