The US Army Research Laboratory's new $10 million Micro Autonomous Science and Technology (MAST) Collaborative Technology Alliance (CTA) Center is to realise technologies for swarming, networked micro air vehicles for urban warfare.
Funded for five years with an option for another five, the MAST CTA has four members, each of which focus on a different but related research area.
The University of Maryland's A James Clark school of engineering's aerospace engineering department is to work on microsystems mechanics BAE Systems on microsystems integration the University of Michigan on microelectronics and the University of Pennsylvania on processing for autonomous operation. BAE is the overall lead for the MAST programme.
"A networked swarm can co-ordinate through sensing, communication and mobility to form a virtual "super-organism" composed of a number of flying...vehicles that can penetrate any structure and find targets of interest," says the chairman of Maryland's aerospace engineering department and professor Darryll Pines.
Such a swarm could aid in searching buildings and caves and assist in perimeter defence, he adds.
Maryland's Alfred Gessow Rotorcraft Center director Inderjit Chopra will lead the microelectronics work, along with assistant professor J Sean Humbert, who will serve as the project's co-director.
Other organisations involved are the University of California at Berkeley, California Institute of Technology, the Georgia Institute of Technology, North Carolina A&T State University, the University of New Mexico, Centeye Corporation and Daedalus Flight Systems.