First we had giant rail guns, then killer robots, and now creepy deadly swarms of automated drones – all for the purpose of protecting the United States and giving little kids nightmares.
What is a Perdix drone?
The Perdix drone, or more accurately, micro-drone, was designed by the geniuses at MIT in 2013. Each drone has a wingspan of only 12 inches with tiny 2 ½ inch propellers. They are fast, nimble, and can fly for about 30 minutes on a single charge.
What they do
Perdix drones fly in swarms – large groups of tiny drones flying close together. The drones communicate with other drones in the swarm. This lets them act like a collective organism, similar to a swarm of bees or flock of birds. The drones can adapt their flying formation to avoid collisions, get instructions on their mission, and even notify others when they’ve been damaged (injured).
Each swarm is given instructions, or a directive, which they act on together to figure out how to accomplish (sort of like classes of students acting together to drive the teacher crazy). Missions include surveillance, reconnaissance, and we’re assuming, targeted attacks.
How they work
The drones are either fired into the air from cannons or released from an airplane’s flare dispenser. Once airborne, the drone’s wings open up and it begins its autonomous flight. The sound of the drone swarm can be described in a single word – terrifying.
In the video below, you can watch a compilation of Department of Defense demonstration videos that show testing of the swarming drones above military testing grounds in China Lake, California.
Remarkable, the drones are constructed solely using smart phone components and 3D-printed parts. They can be mass-produced in huge numbers (oh, great), quickly and cheap.
The Perdix is in its sixth generation of development. Right now, the drones are so agile, they can dodge air defense systems. The Department of Defense is currently seeking companies capable of producing one-thousand “Gen 7” drones this year – drones they say will “likely include more advanced autonomy”. As if they couldn’t get any creepier…