TECH: U.S. Navys wingman drone technology used in combat trials

U.S. Navy research teams recently completed combat trials with the branch’s Tactical Battle Manager system using unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Tactical Battle Manager system, or TBM, is a software platform designed to coordinate combat missions using “wingman” UAVs to assist manned and unmanned teams in combat. Researchers tested the system in a simulated beyond-visual-range combat scenario.

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory collaborated with the Naval Air Systems Command, the Navy Center for Applied Research in Artificial Intelligence and the Air Force Research Laboratory for the trials.

During the tests, operators controlled a lead air vehicle and communicated with autonomous agents controlled by the TBM.

“The main idea here is if the UAV/wingman is left to its own devices, it has the ability to recognize when or how to change its goal or objective as the mission scenario unfolds,” NCARAI head Dr. David W. Aha said in a press release. “While some systems allow users to insert new goals or pre-program the selection of new goals, goal reasoning agents can dynamically select new goals to pursue that are not pre-programmed.”

Researchers integrated the TBM with the Air Force’s Analytical Framework for Simulation, Integration and Modeling system, or AFSIM, in addition to NAVAIR’s Next Generation Threat System, or NGTS. The devices are designed to simulate air, land and surface platforms for virtual training and testing purposes.


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