Autonomous UAV Surveillance Swarm

Autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) now swarm together in surveillance tasks. A small flock of prototype multiple-rotor radio-controlled aircraft are being taught basic surveillance strategies.


(Aerostat Surveillance UAVs swarming)

Project leader Jonathan How at MIT is looking at ways for swarms of UAVs to conduct persistent surveillance of an object or set of objects - like a truck convoy. The UAVs are also able to land on moving vehicles for recharging.

UAVs take turns tracking objects; a small swarm of these "birds" can perform long-term surveillance. At any given time, some of the UAVs might be recharging or performing other tasks.

In his 1995 novel The Diamond Age, science fiction author Neal Stephenson wrote about a similar swarm of devices tasked with surveillance and security - the dog pod grid:

Atlantis/Shanghai occupied the loftiest ninety percent of New Chusan's land area - an inner plateau about a mile above sea level, where the air was cooler and cleaner. Parts of it were marked off with a lovely wrought-iron fence, but the real border was defended by something called the dog pod grid - a swarm of quasi-independent aerostats...
(Read more about Stephenson's dog pod grid)

Another interesting science-fictional look at how a flock of UAVs might track an object is demonstrated in the tracer birds from author Roger Zelazny's excellent 1980 story Changeling.

Thanks to Vik for the tip on this story; read a bit more here.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/28/2006)

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