DARPA to Test “Swarm Grammar” in Urban Environment

Mark Pomerleau, a reporter for C4ISRNET covering information warfare and cyberspace, interviewed Erin Cherry, senior technical program manager of emerging capabilities development at Northrop, with respect to some of the latest drone-swarm R&D. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is gearing up for a major exercise in which it plans to demonstrate a single user controlling a swarm of about 200 unmanned systems in an urban environment. Northrop Grumman and Raytheon Technologies are key players in the exercise.

The upcoming November capstone event at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, is part of DARPA’s OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) program, which envisions smaller units able to mass up to 250 small aerial and ground unmanned systems in urban areas. Northrop’s open-architecture system, dubbed Rapid Integration Swarm Ecosystem, allows an operator to draw a sketch on a tablet, which tells the unmanned systems to perform a specific task. Cherry described this as “swarm grammar.”  Right now, the program is primarily focused on assigning intelligence-gathering tasks to the swarm, but Cherry also described using the unmanned systems to overwhelm an adversary.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report, the background for which appeared in their  # 21 - 25 - 8 OCTOBER 2021 edition of the UNMANNED SYSTEMS NEWS (USN).

David distributes the USN, a free, comprehensive newsletter in PDF format every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this NREF news update was sourced. To be included in his distribution, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.