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The significant growth of unmanned systems in warfare requires future concepts and experimentation to address their use by adversaries to threaten our national security, important installations, and high value units. In particular, reports in the public domain identify the potential use of “saturation attacks” using a large number of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to hinder and/or strike a high value Naval asset.  Study of such UAV saturation attacks are of pressing relevance and are currently ongoing at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, including related student theses and cross-campus faculty research.

However, looking beyond current capabilities, a future concept for defense against these saturation attacks is the employment of a defensive team of Blue UAVs. These low-cost yet capable platforms, with embedded sensing, communication, and autonomy, can offer a novel research area with technical and practical implications. This integrated project has two parallel and equally important components:

Live-fly field experimental testbed

Agent-based modeling and simulation

The systems and collaborative nature of this project will offer numerous research and educational opportunities.

Focused Projects




Control Algorithms for Acrobatic Flight

Develop dynamic control algorithms to enable aggressive flight maneuvers, such as loops, rolls, controlled stalls. Need to perform system identification and robustness analysis, as well as address possible loss of GPS signal or timely state information (open loop)


Modular Software Architecture Design

Use open-source examples as guidance in developing software interfaces (e.g., an API) for extendable plugins for communications, control algorithms, sensor payloads and processing, air-to-air "laser tagging", etc.


Analysis of Communications in Highly Dynamic Mesh Networks

Develop protocols and evaluate performance, in terms of network stability, throughput, latency, etc., of a network of fast-moving mobile nodes, resulting in dynamic topologies and highly variable link qualities


Detection of Anomalous Behaviors in Robotic Systems

Develop algorithms for detecting behaviors which may be characterized by erroneous motions, misleading telemetry and/or incorrect sensor readings, especially in adversarial contexts


Evaluation of Interaction Levels for Swarm UV Operators

Investigate the key feedback signals during missions involving large numbers of unmanned systems. How should such info be presented to the operator, the Commander? Potential study of different levels of control include:
* Individual (one-to-one manual) assignment
* Group assignment 
* Launch and forget
* Only interact for positive identification (PID) and execution of rules of engagement (ROEs)


Extremely Low-cost UAV Platform Design

Dramatically push the boundaries on the structural, packaging, and aerodynamic requirements for significant reductions in cost of the unmanned systems platform. Can a bound on minimum cost for a given set of mission requirements be determined?


Integration and Testing of Novel Autopilot Hardware

Incorporate and conduct systems testing of a new autopilot module (developed jointly by NPS and UCSC) into the aerial platforms, including interfaces with communication, health monitoring, and guidance and navigation subsystems.


Automated Landing Pattern Negotiation for Multiple UAVs



Sensor-based High Precision Landing or Strike



Arbitrator Software Functional Decomposition and Design

Include sense & avoid regulation


Network Requirements for State Monitoring of Multiple UAVs



Machine Vision for Moving Sensor, Moving Target Detection and Tracking







  • TDSI (proposed)
  • NPS Research Recap Program (proposed)
  • ONR Long-Range BAA (in preparation)
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