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US Army Developing Self-Reliant Drones

US Army researchers expect that future combat vehicles will be paired with self-reliant UAVs.

The US Army is working on a project to make all of its unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) self-sufficient on the battlefield.

Researchers are developing technology that will allow robotic vehicles to land on a moving ground vehicle to recharge without the help of external positioning systems.

The initiative will help air-and ground-based autonomous agents during operations that do not require human intervention, the US Army said in a press release.

Army researcher Dr. Stephen Nogar stated that the outcome of the project may help soldiers during search and rescue operations in areas that are too remote or dangerous for humans.

“UAVs will need the ability to operate with no soldier intervention, and a critical function is landing autonomously on static and moving ground vehicles, recharging, then taking off to perform new missions,” he said.

UAV - unmanned air vehicle
Army researcher Dr. Stephen Nogar holding an unmanned air vehicle of the US Army. Photo: David McNally/US Army

“Additionally, UAVs will not be able to rely on GPS, as it is unreliable and easily disrupted, so these behaviors will need to be performed using other sources such as onboard vision,” he added.

Army researchers have tried to conduct simulations and outdoor experiments to identify if the algorithm is effective at performing landing maneuvers.

Through the initiative, Nogar is expecting that future combat vehicles of the US Army will be paired with UAVs that are self-reliant.

“Autonomous landing is critical to making UAVs useful on the future battlefield,” he said. 

“For instance, the Next Generation Combat Vehicle is expected to have a UAV paired with it. Within the lab, several projects are using this capability as part of more complex behaviors.”

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