Drone Wars – technology advances

Everyone is in race for drone technology…some of the developments are astonishing.

Controlling drones is still labour?intensive…but not anymore.

For those who dream of force multiplication?military tacticians and nerdy loners alike?not much beats having a drone. Unless it?s having a whole fleet of coordinated drones. That vision has now come a little closer to reality.

A startup called DreamHammer last week announced that it was rolling out a beta version of software that would allow for the coordinated control of multiple drones. Those drones wouldn?t have to all be in the air, either?some could be unmanned aerial vehicles, some could be wheeled rovers, some could be watercraft, or submarines. In theory, a single person wielding an iPad could carry out a personal robo-D-Day.?

Nobody is proposing that quite yet. But DreamHammer?s software, called Ballista, is meant to solve a little-remarked problem with today?s drones: They?re not that much more efficient, manpower-wise, than manned vehicles. Each drone that U.S. military and intelligence services send on a mission requires a whole support and operations team?a pilot, a person managing the payload (usually a camera or other sensor), and someone to plan the route and make sense of the data it collects.

Ballista is meant to consolidate much of this. A single operator can control not only an entire drone but many, using an intuitive tablet computer interface. ?It?s a very proven software,? says Nelson Paez, chief executive officer of 75-employee DreamHammer, which is based in Santa Monica, Calif. ?It?s really the application layer that speaks to the human-machine interface, and on the back end it talks to all of the legacy systems, the actual communication systems, the hardware on the payload systems.? That leaves the operator to concentrate on what the military calls mission management.

Then there is Argus…from BAE Systems.

The mission of the Autonomous Real-time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance – Imaging System (ARGUS-IS) program is to provide military users a flexible and responsive capability to find, track and monitor events and activities of interest on a continuous basis in areas of interest. The overall objective is to increase situational awareness and understanding enabling an ability to find and fix critical events in a large area in enough time to influence events. ARGUS – IS provides military users an “eyes-on” persistent wide area surveillance capability to support tactical users in a dynamic battlespace or urban environment.

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