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Video Above: Army Research Lab Advances AI to Land Drones on Tanks

By Kris Osborn - President & Editor-In-Chief, Warrior Maven

Dodging enemy fire, tracking fast-moving enemy targets, surveilling enemy formations and even firing precision weapons, are all extremely complex technological tasks to accomplish, yet these things are now woven into the fabric of successful mission execution.

Deconflicting Drone Airspace 

Deconflicting airspace to deliver a pizza in a civilian urban environment, however, is actually more difficult in certain key respects. It is a task the FAA and its industry partners such as Raytheon have vigorously embarked upon with urgency, given the extent to which drones are proliferating around the globe.

In an effort to identify and engineer new technical standards and computer applications to enable beyond-line-of-sight, deconflicted drone flight in a civilian environment, Raytheon and the FAA

“At Raytheon, we provide the Air Traffic Control systems that are used at every airport in the country today, safety critical systems. If we can show that we are using the same technologies that are being used to control 100 million dollar aircraft flying hundreds of people through the skies today, then there is hope they can draw a corollary between that and the safety case for drones flying over your neighborhood,” Kip Surio, Raytheon added.

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The goal is to not only enable multiple small drones to operate without conflict in close proximity in uneven terrain or urban environments but also facilitate breakthrough levels of “beyond-line-of-sight” operations.

“If you have a long extended, say two or three or four mile long route or maybe a 10 mile long route like you would have today, the rule says you have to have a spotter every so long, every so far along the route. So that it's that drone is constantly under visual observation to make sure that nothing bad happens, Currently, the rules are, if you're flying a drone, and you're operating the drone, as the pilot, you've got to be able to see the aircraft all the time to make sure it doesn't go someplace, to make sure it doesn't run into somebody else,” Surio explained.

Surio, who served for years as an aircraft control officer and battle management officer in the Air Force, understands the procedures necessary to deconflict in a warzone

“Now there's plenty of opportunities to take the type of the type of technologies that we're developing here for civil application and use them in the war zone. But frankly, but frankly, that's, that's probably not what's going to happen. The war zone is a lot, there are a lot less safety oriented, and we are here, over Alexandria, Virginia,” although there are corollaries it's really not not the same thing,” Surio said.

Deconflicted beyond-line-of-sight drone flight in highly populated civilian areas requires advanced levels of data integration, real-time analysis and computer automation. 

Kris Osborn is the President of Warrior Maven - Center for Military Modernization and the Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven President

Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven President - Center for Military Modernization

Warrior Maven and the Center for Military Modernization support the US Military and the need for continued US Modernization. However, Warrior Maven and the Center for Military Modernization do not speak for the US military or any US government entity. The Center is an independent entity intended to be a useful and value added publication for thought leadership and important discussion about modernization. Warrior Maven discusses and explores technologies, strategies and concepts of operation related to modernization and the need for deterrence and continued US military readiness, training and preparation for future conflict in a fast-changing threat environment. Warrior Maven does receive some support from private industry but all thoughts are those of the authors.