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25-02-2015, 08:41
  tby tby   
: 30.05.14
: 1,070
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Swarming will force us to rethink our command-and-control paradigms. Right now we have a paradigm where we are remotely controlling uninhabited, or unmanned, systems. In fact, the Air Force goes to great lengths to call their uninhabited aircraft “remotely piloted.” But as future systems incorporate greater autonomy, we shouldn’t have people “piloting” or “driving” aircraft or vehicles in the traditional sense of directly controlling their movements. That should be automated. Rather, people should be commanding them at the mission level, directing the vehicle where to go and what task to perform. This is already the case underwater where uninhabited vehicles require a high degree of autonomy because the communications environment is so challenging. Swarming takes this even another step further. With swarms, the person isn’t tasking any one vehicle, but rather tasking the swarm as a whole, which then coordinates among the different swarm elements to accomplish a task. This requires thinking about command and control very differently, and it isn’t yet clear what the best way is to command and control a swarm. Figuring that out will require experimentation, and the best model may depend on the environment and the mission.
There may not be any one universal answer. Examples from nature can help, since there are many examples of swarming behavior, from ants and bees to wolf packs, but there are fundamental differences between natural swarms and robot swarms. For one, robot swarms are designed, not evolved. They have a specific purpose. But more importantly, for robot swarms there will always be a human controller in charge at some level. Even if the human operator lacks communications with the swarm once it is launched, he or she is launching the swarm to perform a specific task for a specific purpose. There isn’t a similar analogy in nature. So it’s a very new area, and there is interesting research ongoing in military and academic labs.
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