The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has conducted the fourth Offensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) field experiment as part of its efforts to explore new defence technology.

The latest experiment was conducted at the Leschi Town Combined Arms Collective Training Facility (CACTF) in the Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) in Washington, US.

DARPA’s OFFSET programme aims to develop future small-unit infantry forces comprising unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) and/or unmanned ground systems (UGSs) to carry out different missions in urban environments.

The programme seeks to utilise emerging technologies in swarm autonomy and human-swarm teaming to enable swift development and deployment of advance capabilities.

In the latest experiment, DARPA tested swarms of autonomous air and ground vehicles where Swarm Systems Integrators tested their platforms.

The tests allow the Swarm Systems Integrators to gain insights and generate new strategies to improve in following test runs.

Northrop Grumman Mission Systems and Raytheon BBN Technologies are engaged in the development of swarm systems architectures, advanced interfaces, and virtual and physical swarm testbeds for OFFSET.

DARPA Tactical Technology Office (TTO) OFFSET program manager Timothy Chung said: “The Swarm Systems Integrators have been steadily improving their capabilities, each approaching the testing scenarios in unique ways.

“Being able to test large-scale swarms in complex urban environments will allow us to extract new insights into the best ways to use a swarm, especially as our field tests increase in size, complexity, and duration.”

DARPA OFFSET researchers are scheduled to conduct six such planned experiments.

Future experiments are expected to be conducted at six-month intervals.