Speed Reads

Fear the future

The Pentagon is testing a swarm of mini-drones that share 'one distributed brain'

The Department of Defense has published footage of an October test of a fleet of Perdix mini-drones released by F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters mid-flight. Each mini-drone has a one-foot wingspan, which makes it about the size of a blue jay, but together their strangely natural movements are more evocative of a terrifying swarm of robotic insects.

"Perdix are not pre-programmed synchronized individuals, they are a collective organism, sharing one distributed brain for decision-making and adapting to each other like swarms in nature," said William Roper of the Strategic Capabilities Office. "Because every Perdix communicates and collaborates with every other Perdix, the swarm has no leader and can gracefully adapt to drones entering or exiting the team." The drones will likely be used for surveillance.

Watch the swarm in action below. The last few seconds, which show footage of the mini-drones themselves instead of little green tracking markers, really drive home the unsettling resemblance to a swarm of something creepy-crawly. Bonnie Kristian