Russia Joins US in Race to Field Gun-Launched Swarmbots

n armed ground tank robot called the Vikhr, or "Whirlwind," on display at the 2nd annual Military & Scientific Robotic Conference at Patriot Center in Moscow.

SPUTNIK

AA Font size + Print

n armed ground tank robot called the Vikhr, or "Whirlwind," on display at the 2nd annual Military & Scientific Robotic Conference at Patriot Center in Moscow.

A pair of Russian programs hastens the day that drone swarms may meet each other over the battlefield.

Russian arms makers have announced efforts to shoot multiple small drones in rapid succession from small arms and cannons, hastening a day when Russian and U.S. drone swarms may meet each other over the skies of distant battlefield.

On Thursday, Russian news site Tass revealed a reconnaissance drone that a soldier would shoot from “a hand-held grenade launcher.”

“The drone is prepared for launch within a period of 5 seconds to 3 minutes, depending on the time of preparing a flight program in cases when other similar drones require much more time for accomplishing the mission,” Tass reported.

The unveil was part of a military robotics show that brought together more than 30 Russian defense companies and 500 participants.

Other robots on display included an armed ground tank robot called the Vikhr, or “Whirlwind,” which has been recently updated with a 30 mm gun and optional rockets. The Whirlwind works with a small quadcopter and a couple of toaster-sized bots that perform resupply and maintenance. A crew can control it remotely from a kilometer away or it can run semi-autonomously according to Tass.

The conference announcement follows a February announcement that Russian arms manufacturers had worked up a way to launch drones from a much larger Smerch multiple launch rocket system.

The idea to create an unmanned air vehicle enclosed in a Smerch missile warhead is not new. We have carried out technological research and produced it at our own expense, we are not hiding it. We hope customers will start streaming in soon,” Nikolai Makarovets, chief designer of the Splav research and manufacturing association, told Tass.

Russian-backed forces in Ukraine have made liberal use of reconnaissance drones to target enemy positions, allowing artillery fire to arrive within minutes. The ability to deploy drone swarms would aid in that effort.

Related: The Navy is Preparing To Launch Swarm Bots Out of Cannons

Related: These Swarming Drones Launch from a Fighter Jet’s Flare Dispensers

Related: Wanted by the Military: An Ender’s Game Controller for Urban Robot Swarms

The Pentagon is pursuing similar technology through a program called Low-Cost UAV Swarming Technology, or LOCUST, announced in 2015. Its goal is to fire 30 synchronized, foldable drones out of a tube launcher — basically, a cannon.

“How do you get a lot of birds up in the air quickly? That drives you to a canister launch configuration,” Mastroianni, who runs the LOCUST program at the Office of Naval Research, said a few years ago. “I’m platform-agnostic. If you’re looking at a swarm of 20 or 30, there’s no reason why you couldn’t swarm Predators,” he said. “But when you get into something like the Predator, they want them back. They’re not going to be one-way missions.”

LOCUST passed an important developmental milestone in September, when program officials successfully launched a quick succession of 30 Raytheon Coyote demonstration drones, which organized themselves into formation and conducted some group maneuvers, the program officer said.

That may the last we hear about LOCUST for a while; the program has since been classified, an Office of Naval Research spokesman said.

Close [ x ] More from DefenseOne
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from DefenseOne.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download
  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Top 5 Findings: Security of Internet of Things To Be Mission-Critical

    As federal agencies increasingly leverage these capabilities, government security stakeholders now must manage and secure a growing number of devices, including those being used remotely at the “edge” of networks in a variety of locations. With such security concerns in mind, Government Business Council undertook an indepth research study of federal government leaders in January 2017. Here are five of the key takeaways below which, taken together, paint a portrait of a government that is increasingly cognizant and concerned for the future security of IoT.

    Download
  • Coordinating Incident Response on Posts, Camps and Stations

    Effective incident response on posts, camps, and stations is an increasingly complex challenge. An effective response calls for seamless conversations between multiple stakeholders on the base and beyond its borders with civilian law enforcement and emergency services personnel. This whitepaper discusses what a modern dispatch solution looks like -- one that brings together diverse channels and media, simplifies the dispatch environment and addresses technical integration challenges to ensure next generation safety and response on Department of Defense posts, camps and stations.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.