The Pentagon’s advanced research arm has created a floating robot against drone attacks, a kind of Flying Spider-Man that shoots a synthetic net capable of knocking down his enemies. It’s a pretty strange concept until you watch the video below these lines.
According to DARPA, the MFP (Mobile Protection Force) is the product of four years of development to create a low-cost and easily deployable system to protect military installations and convoys in conflict zones, stopping small suicide drones launched by terrorists or armies of all hundred. Apparently, these types of attacks are the new fad in guerrilla warfare, complementing the typical improvised explosive systems on highways.
The agency says it has tested the MFP with total success, shooting down unauthorized intruders during tests at the Eglin US Air Force Base in Florida.
DARPA further claims that this interceptor is low cost and reusable. But perhaps most importantly, it is designed to also protect the population from collateral damage: The system does not use explosives or projectiles that could hit any building, passerby or the convoy’s own vehicles.
Gregory Avicola – the project manager in DARPA’s tactical technology office – says the MFP is “small, light, and self-contained.” The simplicity of the system, he says, makes it cheap to manufacture and operate: the MFP does not require a pilot. Once launched, operates fully automatically, detecting multiple simultaneous air threats and intercepting them.
To achieve this goal, DARPA says that engineers at Dynetics – the military company in charge of development – have had to create a system that integrates multiple sensors, flight systems and countermeasures that, according to them, no one has achieved until now.
How does it work
According to DARPA, the heart of the MFP system is a military SUV equipped with these interceptors and a new X-band radar system that is constantly monitoring the airspace.
This radar “automatically detects and identifies unmanned aerial threats,” says the agency, passing the information to an artificial intelligence system that makes the decision to launch one or more of these interceptors depending on the nature of the attack. The system matches each interceptor with one of the attackers and flies to meet it autonomously.
Depending on the nature of the threat, the MFP system can launch two types of interceptors that fire different types of countermeasures to bring down the target. One of them is a traditional small fixed wing drone.
The most interesting is the one that can be seen in the video, called CUGAR: a cylinder with several segments whose shape vaguely recalls to the Star Wars IG-88 bounty hunter. This interceptor is launched vertically from the vehicle, as if it were a missile.
Once in the air, it deploys its propulsion system: a rotor located in the upper half of the body that begins to rotate at high speed to keep it floating in the air. Without any human intervention, this flying Spider-Man begins to fly on an intercept course, firing a kind of high-density synthetic cobweb It entangles the attacking drone’s rotors, causing its rotors to fail and causing it to fall to the ground without achieving its goal.
The agency says they have successfully tried more types of “non-kinetic techniques” to take down targets, but have not revealed them to the public yet.