DARPA Swarm Drone Challenge

Trailblazing swarm drone tactics and technologies
to dominate the future battlefield.

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The Swarmin' Story

In an era of expensive assets like the F-35, the Department of Defense needed a cheaper, more sustainable way to provide air support and superiority. DARPA took to researching cheap, expendable drones that behave as a single collective to swarm and overwhelm any foe.

DARA team photo

We decided to experiment on how to tactically use and apply the concept of swarm drones in realworld scenarios. And thus, DARPA organized the Service Academies Swarm Challenge, with me on the Air Force Academy team.

The Challenge included:

  • A combination of fixed-wing and rotary wing drones
  • Each Service Academy team developing their own swarm tactics and techniques and building it in code
  • A capstone live-fly event featuring air-to-air battles between each teams' swarms
  • DARPA drone displayJamming dronesDARPA drone

    My partner and I penetration tested and reverse engineered the DARPA-provided drones and experimented with various exploits against them, from Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) attacks to social engineering against our opposing teams.

    During the live-fly exercise, we launched a series of attacks against our opposing teams. Several opposing drones suddenly started landing right where they were hovering as our drones pressed the attack. The opposing team, unaware of what was truly happening, panicked and lost any team cohesion.

    We demonstrated that even with the latest technology we can still lose if we deprioritize cyber-security. An enemy would do anything to gain an advantage or cancel ours, and so we shouldn't limit the actions of red teams so that we can learn the most valuable lessons and be best prepared for the real world.

    More information on the competition is available here.

    About the
    Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

    DARPA Logo

    DARPA is a Department of Defense agency dedicated to creating breakthrough technologies and capabilities for national security.

    Where other organizations focus on incremental advances, DARPA strives for transformational change by making pivotal investments in emerging, leading-edge technologies.

    DARPA also plays an invaluable role in solving problems that serve more than the Department of Defense directly, from securing the US semiconductor supply chain to covid-19 detection.

    What I have done
    and what I can do

    Feel free to dive deeper into what I've accomplished and see what I can do for you and your team.