What is at stake here is the creation of an autonomous unmanned aircraft system (quite possibly a combat one), which, unlike the traditional and widely used unmanned aerial systems of various types and purposes in the world today, will be a UAS for military use, having elements of artificial intelligence and capable of self-development and self-development, and as a result - able to make independent decisions regarding their further actions in accordance with a specific tactical or operational proliferative and tactical situation in its operating area.
WORKS ARE KNOWN, BUT ...
In the military departments of a number of countries in the world, the development of such systems, apparently, is already underway, otherwise why, for example, then develop the appropriate conceptual apparatus? In particular, in the next edition approved by the UK Department of Defense in August on the use of unmanned aircraft systems in the framework of the joint action doctrine prepared by the specialists of the Development Center, concepts and doctrines (Joint Doctrine Publication 2017-0. Unmanned Aircraft Systems. Development, Concepts and Doctrine Center. 30.2), an autonomous system in terms of its use in military (dual) unmanned aircraft technology, is described as follows:
“The autonomous system is able to understand the intentions and indications of a high level. As a result of this, and also taking into account how it (the autonomous system) perceives the environment (that is, depending on its current worldview. - V.Sh.), such a system is able to take appropriate actions in order to achieve the desired result. Based on the analysis of alternatives, it is able to make decisions on the direction in which it is necessary to act without requiring control and management by a person who, incidentally, can still carry it out. At the same time, if, in general, the activity of autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles is predictable, then individual actions may be unpredictable. ”
By and large, the definition given in the official governing document of the British Ministry of Defense is the best and most vivid confirmation of the correctness of the words about the enormous danger to humanity of artificial intelligence, expressed not so long ago by Ilon Mask. In other words, in general, we can control this kind of autonomous systems, but because of the fact that once something comes into her head, all 100% are not insured. In the author’s opinion, after such definitions, given to autonomous systems by the military themselves, there can be no talk of introducing them into military affairs, at least at this stage. In no case.
Representatives of the military-political leadership of various countries around the world probably understand this, since, so far as is known, no such fully autonomous unmanned aircraft or other system (land, sea, etc.) has been adopted.
However, separate programs providing for the creation of autonomous unmanned aircraft systems, even if in their most primitive version, are already being implemented. In particular, it is possible to refer to such a program that has been implemented for several years already in 2012 and was not a particularly public Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO). Judging by the information published in open sources, this program has the main goal of creating an efficient swarm of mini-UAVs (for the time being, probably for reconnaissance purposes) for their use as part of various combat aircraft complexes (combat aircraft) that are currently or planned to enter US Armed Forces.
The idea of a swarm of UAVs that can carry out a group flight and exchange with each other and a control point for various information was proposed in 2011 by a group of students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Aviation and Cosmonautics Department (MIT, also often referred to as Massachusetts University of Technology). The idea found a lively response from the military, so in 2013, at the request of the Office of Strategic Opportunities, students refined it for military use. All work, of course, was carried out under the supervision of Pentagon specialists.
The Perdix mini-UAV, which was also developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but already at the Lincoln Laboratory, was chosen as the base model of the drone, the work of which is being carried out by the US military. This drone weighs only 290 g, has a length of 165 mm, and its wing span is only 300 mm. A miniature scout, a number of structural elements of which is simply printed on an 3D printer, can reach a maximum speed of up to 113 km / h and continuously be in the air, solving its tasks, up to 20 minutes.
“Perdix UAVs are not single objects whose actions are synchronized within the framework of preliminary programming. This is a collective organism that has a single brain, divided between them (unmanned aerial vehicles - V.Sh.) and allows you to make decisions and adapt to each other, as happens in a natural swarm, - says William Roper, director of the Office of Strategic Opportunities, US Department of Defense. . - And since each Perdix keeps in touch and interacts with each of the other Perdixes, the swarm does not have any one particular leader and is able to adapt easily when new drones are attached to it, or when they leave it. ".
Work on this program is carried out by the US military in the strictest confidence, so today only general information about the three tests conducted within its framework has been made public. And the first of them, held back in September 2014, in the area of Edwards Air Base (California), became known only in March 2016. The Pentagon then declassified a short video showing how the F-16 tactical fighter, which seems to belong to the Test School of the US Air Force test pilot, dropped a cargo container that descends by parachute, attracted to the testing of an unmanned swarm. up to a given height, and then a whole bunch of mini-drones opens and scatters. In another video, which was put at the disposal of journalists of the Washington Post newspaper, they said that it was clear how the mini-UAVs already freed from the depths of the cargo container are flying in groups of at least 690 units. The second test was already conducted in Alaska in September 20 of the year: a swarm of 2015 mini-UAVs were tested for performance in a marine environment.
However, the last, third test, which was conducted by the Americans in October 2016 of the year, is of the greatest interest to us, but only 9 of January 2017 of the year became known about it. But with what pomp this event was filed, only one show in the “60 minutes” program of CBS channel is worth something!
This test was carried out jointly by specialists of the Strategic Opportunities Department of the US Department of Defense and the US Navy Command Systems Aviation Command at the test site of the latest airbase in China Lake, Kalifonia, and aimed to refine the actions of the “Big Swarm” of the 103 Perdix mini-drones. This time, according to the test plan, three F / A-18 Super Hornet fired drones into the air from containers to shoot rounds with heat traps and dipole reflectors, after which the drones made contact with each other and made a group flight.
Representatives of the Pentagon reported that, as part of the tests conducted to date, it was possible to confirm the high reliability of an “fully commercial development” unmanned aerial vehicle, as well as to prove its ability to withstand considerable operational loads, including: flight speed - up to M = 0,6, low ambient temperature, strong shock and other loads at the time of release in the air from the container suspended on the plane.
The latter is ensured, among other things, by the fact that each mini-BLAH is discharged from the container, being “equipped” into a strong mini-capsule, and only moving away to a safe distance from the carrier aircraft that “exposed” it, this capsule is reset. After this, the propulsion system of the mini-drone is launched, its systems are brought to the working position, and the control system quickly establishes communication and data exchange with other mini UAVs, which are currently forming a swarm.
WHAT IS IN YOUR NAME
Currently, the Office of Strategic Opportunities, as reported in the American media, is evaluating various enterprises for the possibility of their involvement in the mass production of Perdix-type mini-drones. It is planned that such drones, capable of conducting reconnaissance and surveillance at relatively low altitudes, will be produced in factories in batches of 1000 units.
The origin of such an unusual name for a mini drone is interesting. The latter was named in honor of one of the heroes of ancient Greek mythology - Perdix, who is also known as Perdik and Talos. He was the nephew of Daedalus and his pupil, and the word Perdik translated from ancient Greek means “Partridge”. So, the fate of the mythological hero, who was very talented and even, in mythology, invented a saw, compass, potter's wheel and a lathe, was unenviable. Daedalus, as it is believed, out of envy of his pupil, who could surpass him in talents, simply dropped him from the Athenian Acropolis and fled from the city. Is it interesting that the Americans have prepared the same fate for their unmanned offspring, this “mini-partridge”, or have they not studied the ancient Greek mythology very well?