Research Summaries

Back The Missions, the Tactics, the Implementation: A Simulation for Aerial Combat Swarms

Fiscal Year 2015
Division Research & Sponsored Programs
Department Modeling, Virtual Environments & Simuation Institute
Investigator(s) Black, Scotty E.
Sponsor Space & Naval Warfare Systems Center-Pacific (Navy)
Summary Given the current dynamic and uncertain fiscal environment, the Department of Defense's (DoD) shift of focus to the Pacific, and the proliferation of inexpensive technologies that may allow any group or nation to quickly and easily field cheap yet deadly weapons, it becomes imperative that we find innovative, low-cost alternatives to the current high-cost and technologically advanced
solutions to current and future threats.
This study explores and evaluates the use of swarming unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in a virtual, operationally-relevant battlespace by creating a high-fidelity 30 simulation that allows for the development, evaluation, and analysis of the swarm UAV concept in a holistic manner. Furthermore, we develop and incorporate a prototype user interface that serves as a 'Swarm Command Center,' allowing one or few operators to control one or more swarms.
This notion of swarming mirrors that of the emergent group behaviors found in nature as can be observed from a flock of birds or a school of fish. Individually, each agent has very limited awareness of the environment and limited chances of survival; in a group, however, their combined behaviors becomes complex, dynamic, and unpredictable, virtually guaranteeing their survival. Specifically, we envision using small, low-cost, expendable UAVs working in conjunction with conventional weapons by employing swarm tactics to execute 'kamikaze' -like attacks on a well-defended high value target (HVT).
This Idea of employing UAVs in a swarming context is not new and has been researched and explored to varying degrees in recent years. However, though the technology exists to realize such a novel and potentially revolutionary concept within the next few years, a comprehensive evaluation and analysis or such an employment has yet to be conducted. Using the Unity game engine, we build a realistic combat environment around a capable target or threat with credible defensive and offensive weapons systems. We then design the UAVs by developing and implementing the necessary behaviors for the individual UAVs to execute offensive swarm tactics while creating a user interface that will allow for a single operator to manage, command, and employ one or more UAV swarms.
With this simulation, we evaluate and analyze both the swarm concept and the user interface by conducting statistical design or experiments and rigorous regression analysis to identify key significant factors, determine best tactics, explore optimal levels of autonomy, and discern critical information from the Implemented prototype user interface.
Publications Publications, theses (not shown) and data repositories will be added to the portal record when information is available in FAIRS and brought back to the portal
Data Publications, theses (not shown) and data repositories will be added to the portal record when information is available in FAIRS and brought back to the portal