UAS Swarm Capability Demonstrated to Royal Netherlands Army

By Phoebe Grinter / 29 Nov 2021

Elbit Systems has demonstrated its Robotic Autonomous Systems (RAS) capabilities for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions utilizing heterogeneous autonomous swarms to the RAS Concept Development & Experimentation program of the Royal Netherlands Army.

THOR mini-VTOL operates with PROBOT UGV
THOR VTOL mini-UAS operates with PROBOT UGV

The demonstration deployed swarms comprising of the PROBOT Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) and two types of Vertical Takeoff and Landing mini Unmanned Aircraft System (VTOL mini-UAS) including the THOR, all powered by the TORCH-X RAS software suite (Command and Control application, Autonomy Kits, Planning tools).

During the demonstration, different robotic pairings operated as swarms to autonomously perform three types of operational missions, including planning, navigating to predefined points, allocating sectors, and the performance of various ISR tasks.  

“We focused on demonstrating the capacity of autonomous swarms to leverage mature integrative artificial intelligence and algorithms as field experience with operating Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T) capabilities shows that those are the key to the effective integration of RAS capabilities”, said Gil Maoz, VP of Elbit Systems C4I and Cyber.

Equipped with Autonomy Kits and Electro-Optical payloads, a swarm of three THOR VTOL mini-UASs and PROBOT UGV performed a ‘point of interest’ reconnaissance mission. The TORCH-X RAS Command and Control application used the THOR VTOL mini-UAS swarm to dominate the area of interest and deployed the PROBOT UGV to complete the intelligence picture. Real-time video feeds were transmitted by all four platforms while Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered Automatic Target Recognition (ATR) and designation capabilities enabled effective target acquisition. 

In a second mission scenario, two VTOL mini-UASs were dispatched to resupply front line forces. Taking-off from different destinations the two platforms navigated to predefined locations conducted accurate landing and autonomously returned to their home bases upon mission completion. The third mission was an airborne deployment of Unattended Ground Sensors (UGS) using two THOR VTOL mini-UASs quipped with sensor dispensers. Operating as a swarm, the two THORs arrived at pre-defined points accurately off-loading the miniature Lonely Rider UGS enabling data collection from ground sensors designed to enhance the ISR combat picture. 

The demonstration highlighted the capability of the TORCH-X RAS powered solution to enable heterogeneous formations of unmanned platforms, of different makers, equipped with both proprietary and third party payloads, to act as a cohesive unit conducting synchronized autonomous multi-domain operations.

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