The US Office of Naval Research (ONR) has awarded Raytheon a $29.7 million contract for work on the Low-Cost UAV Swarming Technology (LOCUST) innovative naval prototype (INP).
As its name indicates, the LOCUST project is aimed at developing a system for the deployment of small, low-cost swarming UAVs to autonomously overwhelm an adversary.
Raytheon subsidiary BBN Technologies is already working on developing technology to direct and control swarms of small, autonomous air and ground vehicles under DARPA’s Offensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics program.
In 2016, the company carried out demonstrations that successfully netted together 30 UAVs in a swarm, as part of the LOCUST program.
The UAV swarming system includes a tube-based launcher that can send UAVs into the air in rapid succession. The technology then utilizes information-sharing between the UAVs, enabling autonomous collaborative behavior in either defensive or offensive missions.
A video of a prototype test from 2015 was shared by the ONR and shows the system in action.
Raytheon is expected to complete work on the ONR contract by January 2020.