Aerodynamics Club BPGC
6 min readJul 22, 2022


RGB Fireflies in formation in the sky?

Aerial Swarm Drones

“A novel ‘Drone Show’ has been conceptualized, designed, produced and choreographed within the country. This ‘Make in India’ initiative has been organized by a startup ‘Botlab Dynamics’, supported by Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi and Department of Science & Technology, The show would be of 10 minutes duration involving around 1,000 drones fabricated through indigenous technology.”- Defense Ministry, GoI

Among the various events held at the country’s annual Republic Day Parade, this year while commemorating its 75 years of independence the defense ministry had “conceptualized” a “novel” drone show. The show concluded with 1000 drones flying in synchronization with LEDs lighting up and painting the skies with an exciting light show for the audience.

According to army Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team Maj. Gen. Walter Rugen, spectators in the upcoming exercise will see the “expansive use” of electronic warfare and an interactive drone swarm.

We’ll be launching them pretty much, you know, Monster Garage-style, anyway we can,”

What are these Drones?

The use of these self communicating drones comes from the domain of ‘swarm robotics’. Swarm robotics is an approach to the coordination of multiple robots as a system which consist of large numbers of mostly simple physical robots. It is supposed that a desired collective behavior emerges from the interactions between the robots and interactions of robots with the environment. This approach emerged on the field of artificial swarm intelligence, as well as the biological studies of insects, ants and other fields in nature, where swarm behavior occurs.

How do these drones work?

Observing swarms of natural insects, such as bees, served as the inspiration for the idea of drone swarms. There is no end to what can be accomplished with robotic systems that replicate swarm behavior, according to researchers and engineers.

Is it bees? Is it robots? No, its Drones!

In particular, the inclusion of onboard cameras and proximity sensors on the drones makes drone swarms viable. The drones’ ability to sense one another and prevent collisions depends heavily on the proximity sensors.

How do they communicate?

There are two broad concepts in their working:

Centralized systems: In the early days of drone swarms, one drone served as a sort of “lead drone” who sent orders and information to all other drones. These orders may list the complete map of the area or specific barriers that the swarm must avoid.

But because of bandwidth restrictions, delays frequently happen when a lot of information is being transferred from the lead drone to the other drones in the swarm. Furthermore, since the entire swarm relies on the lead drone for information, it will be impacted if the lead bot is damaged or has any technological issues.

Decentralized systems: Decentralization of commands is a concept that aims to make drones behave like a genuine swarm while avoiding the drawbacks of a centralized system. Data can be transmitted throughout the entire swarm, which has the benefit of making operations more dynamic. Imagine yourself navigating a crowd as you do this. Instead of concentrating on everyone in the throng, pay attention to those who are closest to you so that you can avoid running into them.

Swarm Communication

Figure 3 depicts a leader-subordinate flying/operational paradigm for a hierarchical swarm of quadcopters.

Using an easy-to-use remote control interface, one person may manage the formation and movement of the entire swarm through the leader drone. This swarm exhibits the behavior of a multi-agent control system and is a self-organizing structure. With a distant user/operator and a wireless communication system between the operator and the swarm, it uses the notion of formation flight.

Consider the straightforward illustration in Fig. 3, where a solitary leader drone is in charge of a group of subordinate worker drones. In general, the hierarchy can be far more complicated, consisting of many clusters, each with its own leader or leaders, and multiple layers of leaders creating variously sized “superclusters.” Each drone in the swarm has direct communication channels with its immediate leader drone and peers at the same level of the hierarchy (s). Leader drones at the top of the hierarchy communicate with a server on the ground to share data that has been gathered and processed by the swarm and to distribute mission goals that have been issued by the server.

Intel’s Swarm Drones

Intel ‘Outside’

In the past few years, Intel has gained attention for its role in drone swarms. In 2015, Intel put together a brilliant group of engineers in partnership with Ars Electronica Futurelab.

The team accomplished a noteworthy feat by creating a swarm of 100 drones that were able to fly independently over a German airfield. The team broke the Guinness World Record by autonomously piloting 100 drones.

Another 100 drones were flown over the Palm Springs, California, desert by the team from Intel and Ars Electronica Futurelab to work their magic. In this case, the team wanted to convince the FAA that its drone swarms were safe.

Possibilities for Swarm Drones:

The possibilities of drone swarms are practically endless. Below are areas where drone swarms may be applied.

→ Diversity:

A drone swarm made up of various sizes and types of drones is something you can anticipate in the future. If the drones’ members each have a distinct sort of drone with a diverse set of capabilities, there is a chance for greater efficiency and efficacy.

Today’s drone swarms are made up of tiny, identical drones. With various drone types, it has been possible to successfully assemble drone swarms. So, in the future, increasingly sophisticated multi-domain drones should be expected.

→ Customization:

Flexibility is the key benefit of having programmable drone swarms. Just picture how easy it would be for commanders to add or delete drones as needed. Customization would enable commanders to adjust to the needs of the swarm, which would enable drone swarms. The concept of customizing drones is still being researched, but the data so far indicates it might still be feasible.

→ Hardening:

Eventually, it would be necessary to create drones that could withstand jamming. A drone swarm might be defeated by jamming, which would ensure that the swarm couldn’t function since drone swarms depend on communication with one another to function.

The need to harden drone swarms against various interferences would arise as drone swarm technology advance.

Author: Pratham Bhonge
Poster Credits: Prayag Mohanty

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  1. Droneblog:
  2. Swarms of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles — A Survey Anam Tahir, Jari Böling, Mohammad-Hashem Haghbayan, Hannu T. Toivonen, Juha Plosila, Swarms of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles — A Survey, Journal of Industrial Information Integration, Volume 16, 2019, 100106, ISSN 2452–414X,
  3. The Hindu:
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