Air Force

Decentralized, cooperative task distribution for networked UAVs

Agent-based decision-making and communication system improves efficiency

Software & Information Technology Military Technology

Air Force researchers have developed a collaborative task distribution and execution system for drone networks that are directly incorporated into individual agents, making standard central base stations redundant. The patent-pending technology is available via license agreement to companies that would make, use, or sell it commercially.

Teams of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) can cooperatively accomplish complex missions, such as surveillance and search and rescue, that often cannot be performed by a single UAV.

Traditionally, tasks are centrally assigned to the individual UAVs or agents by a base station with complete knowledge about the tasks and each agent’s unique capabilities. However, in many dynamic systems, new or changed tasks may appear at random locations and times (for example, for target recognition purposes). Thus, a priori knowledge about the tasks is not available to the base station.

Air Force researchers have developed a decision-making and communication system that can be integrated directly into agents, such as UAVs, which allows them to observe the environment, monitor the operation of other agents, and adequately respond to the situation, creating a decentralized, distributed task allocation mechanism.

The Air Force system designates a leader device and X number of follower devices. The leader device has a memory store of resources and knowledge specific to the task or mission to be executed, a transceiver to send and receive data between communicatively linked agents, and a processor. The processor identifies a set of available resources capable of performing the task based on information obtained from the follower agents and then compares the primary resources from memory against the ones currently available to identify overlap and gaps.

Finally, the processor decides which combination of agents (drones) is most capable of the tasks and communicates that instruction to the individual devices via the transceiver.

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