Thursday, January 20, 2005

UAV flocks to be operated against terrorists

Globes [online] - UAV flocks to be operated against terrorists

Elad Kivelevitch, who is working towards his M.Sc. at Technion - Israel Institute of Technology under the guidance of Dr. Pini Gurfil of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, has developed an innovate and unique method of fighting terrorism, using a flock of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The new method will make it possible to distinguish between military targets and civilians, even in crowded built-up areas, and greatly increase the probability of hitting and destroying the target.

Kivelevitch and Gurfil have developed an algorithm for indentifying and destroying targets in hostile territory, based on natural movements of flocks, such as storks, wasps, and ants. They have created a flock of coordinated UAVs, which do not collide with each other, and which work as a team. “A flock of UAVs can perform a given mission better than one UAV,” Gurfil explains. “Communications between the members of the flock are sophisticated, not complicated, which enables even a flock of dozens of UAVs to function effectively.”

A heterogeneous flock of UAVs, each with its own capabilities, has one “leader.” The leader spots the target, conducts a “tender” among the flock members, decides which has the best chance of destroying the target, and assigns the mission to that member.

”The new method has several conspicuous advantages,” Gurfil adds. “It distinguishes between friend and foe, and its chances of striking the enemy are far better than the chances of an individual UAV. When a malfunction is detected in a flock member, or one simply runs out of fuel, that member is returned to the base for repair or refueling, while the mission continues. This is not the case with a single UAV forced to return to its base. All UAV flock systems are capable of learning and adapting to dangerous territory and a high degree of uncertainty.” The system, based on the theory of logic and behavioral science, took over a year to develop.

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