ScanEagle UAV

Boeing and Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL) teams have completed expanded control demonstrations of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) using mobile ad hoc networks and Swarm network technology during flight tests over Oregon, US.

Conducted in June 2012, ground-based operators controlled two Insitu-built ScanEagle UAVs, using only a laptop and a military radio.

The technology enabled the operators to connect with the autonomously operating UAVs, allowing them to obtain information without using a ground control station (GCS).

Gabriel Santander, Boeing Phantom Works Advanced Autonomous Networks programme director, said the Swarm network technology is capable of offering more missions at less risk and reduced operating costs.

"This swarm technology may one day enable warfighters in battle to request and receive time-critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information directly from airborne UAVs much sooner than they can from ground control stations today," Santander added.

The demonstrations were conducted as part of a collaborative agreement signed between Boeing and JHU/APL.

Developed by JHU/APL, the technology helps multiple UAVs to communicate and act together to support a unified mission, and complete tasks more quickly, by conducting operations in a similar way as a swarm of insects.

The technology is expected to be deployed during search and rescue operations or for identifying enemy threats ahead of ground patrols.

Image: A ScanEagle UAV sits on the catapult prior to launch in Iraq. Photo: courtesy of Gunnery Sergeant Shannon Arledge, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.