It wasn’t long ago that automated aerial killing machines were just something you would likely see in a Terminator movie, but the reality is a lot different, with both the United States and the UK looking into drone attack technology.

More commonly known as drone swarms, the idea is to deploy hundreds of military drones armed with the latest missile technology to attack targets from the air without the need to deploy piloted aircraft.

Inspired by insects

Drone swarms were first touted as an idea when it became apparent that swarms of insects worked together in vast numbers and that this could be utilised in the development of drone technology.

Drone swarms will not rely on a human user to direct them to their intended target once they have been launched, as they will have the ability to make decisions for themselves whilst in flight. Although this technology is still in its experimental stage, you can be sure that it won’t be long until drone swarms are deployed in reconnaissance and attack scenarios.

The behaviour of ants and termites has been used by one military drone technology company, which has studied how the insects construct large and elaborate structures using a system called “stigmergy”.

This entails one insect leaving a signal in an environment so that others can react to it. Ants and termites achieve this by leaving chemical trails that inform other members of the colony to the location of soil in a mound in order to build a structure.

The advantages of drone swarms on a battlefield

It is this ability to work intuitively together that is one of the major advantages that drone swarms will have on the battlefield, which will allow for the deployment of large numbers of machines that are expendable and cheap to make.

Plus, autonomous agents will be able to coordinate their attacks with much more efficiency and on a grander scale than humans ever could.

There is no doubt that with the advancement of drone technology, fighter aircraft as we know them today will soon become a thing of the past like other former battlefield staples such as the horse and the cannon.

Image by andri333 from Pixabay