University of Nebraska Lab Developing Drone-Swarm ‘Mothership’

With a grant from the U.S. Army, the team is developing the “mothership” capable of deploying “baby” drones on 10-unit missions

The University of Nebraska Lab Develops Drone-Swarm “Mothership”.
With a grant from the US military, the team is developing a “mothership” capable of deploying “baby” drones in 10-unit missions.
A University of Nebraska-Lincoln team has received a new $250,000 grant from the U.S. Army to develop an algorithm for deploying drone swarms of customized “mother” drones to perform various reconnaissance missions.

The idea is for the mothership, developed by the Nebraska Intelligent Mobile Unmanned Systems Lab (NIMBUS), to drop several “baby” drones in flight while other drones take off from the ground. The mothership will use an onboard camera system to identify and track the swarming drones, while ground and airborne radars will attempt to identify and track the swarm as part of an unmanned aerial system (UAS) effort.

Ultimately, the team’s goal is for the drones to coordinate their activities and perform a variety of intelligence, surveillance, targeting, and reconnaissance missions. The project will bring drones that survey an area, communicate data with each other, and return to pre-defined landing spots, all without access to Wi-Fi in uncertain environments. and have cheaper, commonly available equipment. “This is very exciting for me because I’ve always been interested in multi-agent development, but I’ve always seen the limitations of internal experiments as something we have to overcome if we want to deploy the right decentralized hosts,” said the associate professor. computer science Justin Bradley, who led the team and is a member of the National Strategic Research Institute (NSRI) at the University of Nebraska. “This will get us there in a big way.

The NIMBUS team, which also includes five Ph.D. students and two undergraduate students, has already completed a full demonstration of 10 vehicles and is now moving on to more sophisticated capabilities.

Funding was provided by the U.S. Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command Army Research Laboratory, which uses swarming technology as a way to accomplish time-consuming or dangerous UAS tasks.

“We can confirm the effective work of the NIMBUS laboratory from many other projects where these top Nebraska researchers have provided valuable products to defense customers,” said NSRI Director Rick Evans. “What’s so rewarding about this work is not just the cutting-edge outputs, but how it can move this area of ​​research and applications forward while providing more rewarding experiences for students.