AUSA NEWS: Army to Use AI to Defeat Small Drones

By Yasmin Tadjdeh

iStock illustration

The Army’s office for countering small drones sees artificial intelligence and machine learning as key technologies for defeating enemy systems, service officials said Oct. 15.

AI is “critical to what we're doing in the counter-UAS world,” said Maj. Gen. Sean Gainey, director of the Joint Counter Small Unmanned Aircraft System Office and director of fires, G-3/5/7. 

Artificial intelligence will reduce the burden on human operators and improve their decision-making, said Col. Marc Pelini, division chief for capabilities and requirements.

The military wants AI-enabled systems that can speed up reaction timelines for thwarting drone attacks, which are seen as a growing threat, he said during a media roundtable at the Association of the United States Army’s annual conference, which was held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The technology has the potential to reduce false alarms by weeding out non-threats, and identify small unmanned aerial vehicles that might otherwise go undetected, he noted. It can also reduce the complexity of systems, making them more user friendly, Pelini said. The services want a "military specialty-agnostic capability" that a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine can intuitively operate.

The secretary of the Army is designated as the Defense Department’s executive agent for counter-small unmanned aerial systems, which includes platforms in UAS Groups 1 through 3. Systems in those groups — which are smaller and have less endurance than larger drones such as the MQ-9 Reaper — include platforms such as the DJI Phantom 3, the DJI S1000 and the Forpost system.

The Army office for countering small drones will be putting out a new strategy, Gainey said. Operational requirements have already been approved by the Joint Staff. The strategy is currently in draft form but should be delivered to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper “relatively soon,” he added.

The organization, alongside the Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office, is also getting ready to host a virtual industry event Oct. 30 to discuss the technology with companies, Gainey said.

According to an Army statement, the event will “provide information regarding emerging requirements, address the multitude of ... challenges, and encourage competition and efficiencies in future technology development and procurement activities.”

It will be open to all vendors and will cover strategy, training, current capabilities and operational capability requirements, according to the service. It will also outline future acquisition approaches, “on-ramp” opportunities and plans for standardized test protocols.

The office recently conducted an assessment of fielded counter-UAS capabilities to determine which systems the military should continue to invest in, Gainey said. Criteria included effectiveness, usability, sustainment and integration. 

The results were released at the end of June and included a number of platforms. In the “fixed/semi-fixed systems” category, the office selected the fixed site-low, slow, small unmanned aircraft system integrated defeat system, or FS-LIDS; the negation of improvised non-state joint aerial-threats, or NINJA; and the counter-remote control model aircraft integrated air defense network, or CORIAN.

The “mounted/mobile system” category included the light-mobile air defense integrated system, or L-MADIS. 

The “dismounted/handheld systems” category included Bal Chatri, Drone Buster and Smart Shooter.

Finally, the “command-and-control” category included the forward area air defense command-and-control, or FAAD-C2, platform as well as interoperable systems, such as the air defense system integrator, or ADSI. It will also include the multi-environmental domain unmanned systems application command-and-control, or MEDUSA C2, once it becomes interoperable with FAAD-C2, according to the Army.

“With that assessment now complete, the department will continue to work with industry to bring these interim systems to full maturity or to eventually replace them with follow-on, enduring systems,” Gainey said. “This is probably where most of our effort is going right now, engaging with industry as we look at what's next for these systems [and] balancing our core requirements.”

Meanwhile, the office is working with partner organizations such as the Defense Digital Service and the Defense Information Systems Agency to mitigate cyber vulnerabilities within its counter-drone systems, Pelini said. It also wants to use AI to exploit potential vulnerabilities adversaries have in their systems via spoofing and other methods, he added.

Topics: Robotics and Autonomous Systems

Comments (1)

Re: Army to Use AI to Defeat Small Drones

I think that this will be much harder to achieve than you can imagine as combat drone technology is in my opinion capable of being the most lethal and effective tools ever created for intermediate & close combat scenarios.

I spend a lot of time conceptualizing in fact 1997 I came up with an idea that was a prototype for what would later become the smartphone I called it the MPVDU (multi-purpose visual display unit) I went to Richard Branson with the idea writing to him, going into details explaining the full benefits of the device such as video conferencing uploading and downloading information and video feeds sharing this data almost simultaneously, I was certain that we would attain the bandwidth speeds needed very soon, sadly it's only now are we seeing these speeds.
I see trends in many cases way before they happen I don't know why, but I just seem to understand technology especially the parts I am interested in.
Which is why when I first saw drones I saw with it the huge benefits not only for film and video which I am passionate about but also for science & research, surveillance & security (both domestic and professional) I also was amazed at the full potential of what these systems were capable of achieving in the military field. I have come up with a system and I know that we have the technology as well as the programming capabilities to do this right.
Even the most elite special force units would be rendered critically vulnerable against the drone units.
The systems when operational could operate 100% AI. The only human interaction needed would be to be present to override kill commands or recode assignment procedures.
These units are HIVE-AI, each a single-unit drone part of a 256 collective unit company, gathering intel which is then simultaneously fed to the HIVE-AI network. they can recognize/understand voice and languages, distinguish between human and animal, read life form biometrics, will have cloaking/shielding technology, have advanced cameras that can see in darkness, thermal imaging, use advanced acoustic hardware/software that can be tuned to isolate and home into human heartbeats/voices/movements.

HIVE-AI can communicate/operate other military hardware with built-in HIVE-AI chips, so they can send commands to Predator drones, to autonomous tanks and mobile machine gun/mortar turrets, giving them exact target co-ordination

Each of the drone units could be an explosive device, each unit can carry a different payload (just like soldiers they can be specialised for specific purposes.
They can be used to (P) protect special human units (Friendlies) from other enemy drones by shadowing and operating in protect mode.
they could also have (G) guard mode and of course (A) attack.
on top of this, they can also be set to (R) reconnaissance where each unit maps out a grid and watches it for any kind of movement taking photographs that are updated hourly checking for even the slightest change in movements or markings to the terrain, stones kicked, bushes moved, tyre tracks ect.

They would be dropped within 500 meters of the target and have assigned power resupply drones to re-energise from these will position around 50-meter increments from the target so they can be accessible for recharge/rearm when required.

I am seeing units that the US are using now and these are ridiculous they are massive they would be eliminated in minutes by the HIVE-AI units
simply by sending a single unit to each of the much larger primitive drones and explode on contact or activate a mobile drone turret though exact coordination and blast them out of the sky.

The technology I am seeing now being incorporated by the US military much of it is so primitive, the Chinese are way ahead of them but it does not need to be like this all it takes is the willingness to create the best and not just in the machines but in the people who build, program and operate them.

People think I am crazy but I swear with the right resources I can create this system..

By the way, the size varies depending on tasks but they can be as small as 7.5cm x 5cm up to 15cm x 35cm although specialised units can be even bigger.

Ask yourself this that if you had the technology that can achieve this, then what are its possibilities?

I only want to save the lives of friendlies and non-combatants including animals and wildlife, war will happen one way or another but If I can help to keep down the numbers for CD (Collateral Damage) that to me is worth it.


Hugh Hill at 12:04 AM
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