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The robotic birds aren't flying over Point Loma just yet, but according to a document posted online by Muckrock, a Boston-based public records request service, the U.S. Office of Naval Research here is overseeing at least one experimental drone research program at the University of Arizona in Tucson. The "Grant/Cooperative Agreement", dated last April 27, describes the program's scope of work as "DDDAMS-based Urban Surveillance and Crowd Control via UAVs and UGVs." The project's administrative office is listed as the Office of Naval Research San Diego, located at Naval Base Point Loma.

(In the drone trade, DDDAMS stands for "Dynamic-Data-Driven Adaptive Multiscale Simulations.")

The principal investigator on the $621,640 project, the record says, is Dr. Young-Jun Son, a professor and Da Vinci fellow in the systems and industrial engineering department at the University of Arizona, Tucson.

Of the grant total, according to the document, "only $209,557 is currently allotted and available for payment. It is anticipated that these funds will support research through 30 Apr 2013."

According to a posting on the website of Virginia's George Mason University near Washington, D.C., which is collaborating with Arizona investigators, one aim of their research is to "create an autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to perform Tracking and Shepherding tasks."

Shepherding is the problem in which one of more shepherd robots attempt to guide a flock to a goal. The problem is difficult because it is highly under-actuated, dynamic, and requires coordination of movement among the team of shepherds.

A paper describing the research is set to appear in the Proceedings of the 2013 International Conference on Computational Science.

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Javajoe25 April 9, 2013 @ 11:23 p.m.

Sherparding? You mean they are putting drones up there that are not being piloted by someone somewhere? And need to be guided by a "shephard robot"? This is getting too bizarre...and sounds like a disaster in the making.


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