Mini-drones swarms and their potential in conflict situations

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Title

Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Cyber Warfare and Security, ICCWS 2020


Academic Conferences and Publishing International Limited


School of Science




Lehto, M., & Hutchinson, B. (2020, March). Mini-drones swarms and their potential in conflict situations. In ICCWS 2020 15th International Conference on Cyber Warfare and Security (pp. 326-333). Academic Conferences and Publishing. https://doi.org/10.34190/ICCWS.20.084


The Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) commonly known as drones are currently used in a wide range of operations such as border monitoring, aerial reconnaissance, traffic control and military interventions in armed conflicts. These aerial vehicles are expected to be reliable, automated and sometimes autonomous machines, albeit the human factor continues to play a crucial role in programming and control. At their genesis, drones were complex, large and reserved to an exclusive club of technologically advanced military powers. They tended to be used against technologically weak military targets. Developments in the price, size and sophistication of drones has now enabled almost anyone to purchase them. These contemporary machines are often small, and, with increasing usage of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has put them in the cost and usage range of almost any combatant. Therefore, there is a need to re-think strategies and tactics for their use. These 'mini-drones' rarely have the sophistication and capabilities of 'conventional' drones, but they do have the ability to provide an asset in large numbers and increasing capabilities. Although they might not have such attributes as the lifting capabilities of the larger models, they can be used economically and en masse and so have can have a different but equally effective outcomes. This paper examines the swarming and associated abilities to overwhelm a combatant as well as bring extra functionality by means of extra sensors spread throughout the swarm. Thus, sophisticated AI provides a swarm with various types of functionality to the drones: for instance, dummy/distraction drones, kinetic and non-kinetic attack drones, surveillance drones as well as drones that can be equipped with wireless access points and deployed to configure an ad-hoc flying network. This paper also examines UAV/drone categories and autonomy and also how autonomy and Swarm intelligence (SI) can be used to create efficiency for a variety of operation concepts. © 2020. the authors. All Rights Reserved.



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