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Aerial Surveillance Technology Could Keep Soldiers Safer

Aerial Surveillance Technology Could Keep Soldiers Safer

New technology that enables aerial vehicles to plan and verify missions could mean there is less need for military personnel to conduct dangerous surveillance operations in war zones.

Developed for use in multiple unmanned aerial vehicles (MUAVs), the sophisticated autonomous computer framework - the first of its kind - allows one operator to control a number of vehicles from a safe position on the ground.

It would also make surveillance missions significantly cheaper.

The EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) research project has been developed by scientists from Cranfield University, based at the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom. They are collaborating with a research team at Imperial College London.

UAVs are used regularly in defence scenarios, but having a team of vehicles means more "eyes," safer missions and more accurate results. It also means that if one vehicle is lost in action the others can carry on until the mission is complete. Launching a fleet of vehicles in crowded or dangerous skies, however, requires very sophisticated control and guaranteed performance of the vehicles.

The framework technology allows an operator to programme a mission objective, authorising the group of vehicles to decide the most efficient way to complete their task. Through a series of control algorithms the framework manages each vehicle's functions, such as navigation, guidance, path planning and decision making, and ensures the vehicles avoid colliding with one another or other objects.

Principal researcher Professor Antonios Tsourdos explains the importance of the framework's accuracy: "We have to be absolutely certain of the behaviour of the UAVs if they are operating over civilian areas or in a battle situation."

Reaper MQ-9 UAV

"A Reaper MQ-9 UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) prepares for a training mission. (Credit: Crown Copyright/MOD 2010/"

Source: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

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