Teams of Intelligent Machines

UAVs will become sufficiently autonomous such that a single person can manage multiple platforms in the same manner as an air traffic controller manages flights within a region, and since an ATC can handle multiple aircraft safely, a single human will be able to handle multiple platforms safely. The ATC metaphor is fallacious because it ignores the piloting- command role, which is unique to unmanned vehicles. If a manned air vehicle encounters difficulties, the ATC does not assume control of the aircraft; the pilot on board remains in charge of each individual aircraft and responds to the local problem. In unmanned systems, the operator is expected to be the de facto pilot-in-command of each vehicle and to take over operations in case of a problem.

Currently available, autonomy technology should not only support individual vehicle autonomy with less manpower, but it should also meet the goal of providing an individual with the ability to operate multiple platforms for many types of missions, or at least significant phases of missions.


The PowerPoint, podcast and video on this page address the creation of actively coordinated teams of multiple machines that can self-organize into teams and are capable of initiating and completing complex mission tasks.