US Navy Develops Swarming Drones

The US Navy is developing drones to be launched from a cannon and "swarm" in a co-ordinated attack.~

The US Office of Naval Research (ONR) said the drones will be able to fly autonomously and "overwhelm an adversary".

Once the drones are in the air the wings are said to unfold, allowing them to fly in formation.

The US Navy plans to demonstrate the launch of 30 Locust drones in 2016.

The ONR said as the drones are relatively compact, the Locust systems can be deployed from ships, aircraft or land vehicles.

It explained that missions are pre-programmed, but there will "always be a human monitoring the mission".

Lee Mastroianni, ONR programme manager said: "This level of autonomous swarming flight has never been done before.

"UAVs that are expendable and reconfigurable will free manned aircraft and traditional weapon systems to do more, and essentially multiply combat power at decreased risk to the warfighter."

Human rights groups have criticised the use of drones however. They say that, despite their highly targeted nature, innocent non-combatants are often killed in the process.

The prospect of autonomous swarms of drones carrying out pre-programmed military missions is only likely to increase these concerns in the near future.

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