13 Nov 2019

Northrop Grumman takes part in DARPA Swarm Test

Northrop Grumman has demonstrated progress towards successful heterogeneous unmanned vehicle (UxV) swarming with the test of Rapid Integration Swarm Ecosystem (RISE) at the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s (DARPA) second field experiment.

The experiment leveraged the command, control and collaboration capabilities of RISE in a mock city environment at Fort Benning, Georgia, with dozens of UxVs and human team members. The test was part of Northrop Grumman’s work as a Swarm Systems Integrator in the Agency’s OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) program, which seeks to provide dismounted soldiers with upwards of 250 small UxVs.

At the most recent field experiment, Northrop Grumman showcased its open architecture by integrating various capabilities from associate contractors (“Swarm Sprinters”) into RISE.

Northrop Grumman’s subcontractors from Intelligent Automation, Inc. and University of Central Florida brought about additional enrichments that ranged from tactical robotic capabilities to enhanced sketch-based user interfaces. Notably, RISE also demonstrated self-healing task allocation in the event of loss of communications, via capabilities provided by Heron Systems, an associate contractor. Northrop Grumman also collaborated with associate contractors Michigan Tech Research Institute, Soar Technology, Inc. and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, North Carolina

RISE utilizes the Robot Operating System (ROS), an open architecture that enables the use of small, low-cost commercial off-the-shelf air and ground vehicles. These vehicles rely on the human-swarm teaming approach that enables swarm commanders to define a high level mission plan, monitor the mission, and make decisions based on that new system-sourced information. RISE also enables third party developers to easily interact with existing platforms, sensors and effectors through the use of standard ROS interactions. RISE aligns with the DARPA OFFSET vision to build and support a community of third-party Swarm Sprinters.

Vern Boyle, Vice President, Emerging Capabilities, Northrop Grumman, said: “Swarm technologies are vital to getting expanded situational awareness in a complex environment like the one in this test.

“Our unique applications of autonomous robotics and human-machine teaming for swarming enhances a warfighter’s capacity and speed for information gathering and processing under a variety of conditions.”

image courtesy of Northrop Grumman

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