Issue 37 Unmanned Systems Technology April/May 2021 Einride next-gen Pod l Battery technology l Dive Technologies AUV-Kit l UGVs insight l Vanguard EFI/ETC vee twins l Icarus Swarms l Transponders l Sonobot 5 l IDEX 2021 report

70 W hile there has been a lot of talk over the past decade on the subject of swarming for unmanned systems, only a few companies have successfully commercialised swarm operations. Icarus Swarms is one of those, having deployed its swarming capabilities in coordinated light displays, initially at commercial UAV shows. Over the past year, the French company has also worked on providing critical applications for the country’s special forces, revolving around key equipment to operatives on the ground at crucial tactical moments. The equipment can include radio relays, jammers, radioactivity sensors, EO or IR spotlights or cameras, or pyrotechnics for generating smoke to provide cover for the operatives when they’re regrouping or withdrawing from a theatre of operations. “We use standard COTS UAVs but customise them with some electronics and software to be able to field them in centimetre-accurate paths without mistakes across the fleets,” says Icarus Swarms’ co-founder and technical director Jean-Dominique Lauwereins. These customised UAVs are now sold in turnkey batches, for use by organisations in the defence, security, emergency services and similar applications. The technology used by the company is the result of more than 10 years of UAS research, and first tested in collaboration with Thales in 2009. Small UAVs in swarms For its base platform requirements, Icarus Swarms maintains a close partnership with consumer UAV company Parrot, which has supplied its quadrotors to the company for many years and given its engineers access to making the required hardware and software modifications to enable their approach to swarming. While a few different craft can be used by Icarus, the UAV of choice tends to be Parrot’s Anafi Thermal. This multi- rotor weighs 315 g, and is powered by a 2.7 Ah battery with two lithium-polymer cells to give a maximum flight time of about 26 minutes between charges. Lauwereins notes that although these UAVs come with their own EO/ IR cameras, Icarus Swarms will often integrate an additional and different Icarus’ swarming control architecture doesn’t use radio comms but is designed around embedded UAV behaviour algorithms, as Rory Jackson explains April/May 2021 | Unmanned Systems Technology Radio silence