In the skies over Ukraine, a new epoch in air warfare is emerging: drone-on-drone combat.
These aerial duels don’t involve bullets, missiles or bombs. In some, hobby-type camera quadcopters that are used to spy on enemy positions simply ram each other in a crude aerial demolition derby. In other encounters, highly sophisticated craft use advanced radar—backed by artificial intelligence and the latest aerospace engineering technology—to precision fire nets that snag other drones.
“This is something we haven’t seen before,” says Caitlin Lee, who leads the Center for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Autonomy Studies at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies in Arlington, Va. “This is the first time we’re seeing drone-on-drone conflict.”
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