Technology

LOS ANGELES – The United States military announced on Tuesday that it had launched 103 miniature swarming drones from a fighter jet during a test in California last October.

Three F/A-18 Super Hornets were used to release the Perdix drones, which have a wingspan of 12in (30cm), operate autonomously and share a distributed brain.

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A military analyst said the devices, able to dodge air defence systems, were likely to be used for surveillance.

Video footage of the test was published online by the Department of Defense.

“Perdix are not pre-programmed synchronised individuals, they are a collective organism, sharing one distributed brain for decision-making and adapting to each other like swarms in nature,” said William Roper, director of the Strategic Capabilities Office.

“Because every Perdix communicates and collaborates with every other Perdix, the swarm has no leader and can gracefully adapt to drones entering or exiting the team.”

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The drones were originally designed by engineering students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and were first modified for military testing in 2013, according to the BBC.

In May, the US Navy tested a system that could launch drones into the sky for rapid deployment.

Late last year, the Chinese also demonstrated a swarm of larger, fixed-wing drones, made by DJI.