A team of drones offers a host of potential applications that individual drones are currently unable to perform. “The integration of very large teams of robots into comprehensive systems enables new tasks and missions ranging from search, exploration, rescue, surveillance, and pursuit, up to deploying infrastructure,” he said.
Brain-controlled drones could improve search and rescue missions, covering a larger area more efficiently than a single drone could. Drone swarms might also be helpful in fighting wildfires, tracking the spread of a conflagration, which might provide first responders and firefighters with greater amounts of footage and data than current technology.
In agriculture, the drones could help create topographic maps to analyze soil quality and help with irrigation planning. They could also be fitted with sensors that would alert farmers to any crop infections. Manual drones are already used on some farms in the US and Japan, and the ability to deploy multiple drones at the same time with a brain-controlled interface would allow for even greater coverage.
RELATED: DroneShield Unveils Security System for Detecting and Disabling Invasive Drones
Security threats at large gatherings like concerts, sporting events, and political rallies are a widespread, public concern. Drone swarms could improve surveillance at these events, transmitting real-time video footage from a wider area than is currently possible.
Artemiadis, whose drone research is funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research, has tested a swarm of three drones, but he says the technology could work on a vastly larger scale.
“As long as there is a centralized controller that can communicate the commands to the drones,” he said, “the brain-swarm control algorithm is scalable to hundreds or thousands of them.”
WATCH: The Future of Warfare: Laser Cannons and Drone Armies