The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has selected Northrop Grumman Corporation as a Phase 1 Swarm Systems Integrator for the Agency’s OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) program.
Northrop Grumman will launch its first open architecture test bed as part of the program, and is seeking participants to create and test their own swarm-based tactics on the platform.
Northrop Grumman is teamed with Intelligent Automation, Inc. (IAI) and the Interactive Computing Experiences Research Cluster, directed by Dr. Joseph LaViola at the University of Central Florida.
(While people often think about swarms as simply being large collections of robots, swarms, in fact, have five defining characteristics: number, agent complexity, collective complexity, heterogeneity, and human-swarm interaction. DARPA’s OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) program will explore these characteristics as it seeks to develop and demonstrate operationally relevant swarm tactics that could be used by groups of unmanned air and/or ground systems numbering more than 250 robots. These swarm tactics for large teams of unmanned assets would help improve force protection, firepower, precision effects, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities. Courtesy of DARPA and YouTube)
As part of the DARPA OFFSET program, Northrop Grumman serves as a swarm systems integrator, tasked with designing, developing and deploying a swarm-system, open-based architecture for swarm technologies in both a game-based environment and physical test bed.
The Northrop Grumman led-team has been tasked to produce tactics and technologies to test on the architecture and is responsible for engaging a wider development and user audience through rapid technology-development exercises known as “swarm sprints.”
(Learn More. DARPA’s OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) program envisions future small-unit infantry forces using small unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) and/or small unmanned ground systems (UGSs) in swarms of 250 robots or more to accomplish diverse missions in complex urban environments. By leveraging and combining emerging technologies in swarm autonomy and human-swarm teaming, the program seeks to enable rapid development and deployment of breakthrough capabilities to the field. Courtesy of DARPA and YouTube)
Approximately every six months, DARPA plans to solicit proposals from potential “sprinters” in one of five thrust areas:
- Swarm Tactics
- Swarm Autonomy
- Human-Swarm Teaming
- Virtual Environment
- Physical Test Bed
Participants from academia, small business and large corporations are invited to join in these swarm sprints.
Sprinters will work with the integration team to create and test their own novel swarm tactics within the test bed environment.
The end of each sprint will coincide with live physical test experiments with DARPA, the systems integrator team and other sprinters.
To participate in Northrop Grumman’s swarm sprints, visit the Swarm Tactics Exchange Portal at http://www.swarmtex.com.
The goal of the OFFSET program is to provide small-unit infantry forces with small unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) or small unmanned ground systems (UGSs) in swarms of 250 or more robots that support diverse missions in complex urban environments.
OFFSET seeks to advance the integration of modern swarm tactics and leverage emerging technologies in swarm autonomy and human-swarm teaming.
(The Service Academies Swarm Challenge is the most recent example of how DARPA works to ensure the technological superiority of U.S. military forces by periodically engaging the U.S. military Service academies in research-oriented competitions. Courtesy of DARPA and YouTube)