The emergence of various risks to global security and stability is a motivation to develop remote sensing and monitoring systems that can be deployed on Unmanned Vehicles (UxVs). This requires the development of robust autonomous control technologies that can reliably coordinate large numbers of networked heterogeneous systems cooperating on a common mission objective. This paper describes a promising approach to addressing this challenge by using swarm intelligence to coordinate multiple heterogeneous vehicles and remote sensors in realistic applications. We describe a class of stigmergic algorithms based on digital pheromones to control and coordinate the actions of heterogeneous unmanned air and ground systems in two applications: broad area surveillance and base protection. An Operator System Interface was developed to evaluate techniques for enabling a single operator to monitor and manage multiple unmanned vehicles and unattended sensors of different types. The results from recent demonstrations of the technology using air and ground platforms are reported.
J. A. Sauter, R. S. Matthews, J. S. Robinson, J. Moody, and S. P. Riddle. Swarming Unmanned Air and Ground Systems for Surveillance and Base Protection. In Proceedings of AIAA Infotech@Aerospace 2009 Conference, Seattle, WA, AIAA, 2009.