The inevitable advent of manned/unmanned teaming via unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) requires solutions that significantly reduce the introduced cognitive load requirements on the pilot. This enables the warfighter to orchestrate a creative and complex coordinated mission plan leveraging available assets while understanding intricate strategic objectives. Imposing micromanagement requirements derived from disparate environmental states and fluctuation in availability of autonomous wingmen (i.e. devolving situational awareness) exponentially exacerbates the challenges of the solution space. Recent advancements resulting from swarm system solutions offer promising avenues for addressing these challenges and accelerating manned fighter augmentation.

In late 2019, Heron Systems, Inc. was awarded a subcontract to Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory to demonstrate enhanced autonomy as part of their work developing AI for autonomous systems. During this demonstration, Heron Systems Inc. extended its novel resource and task allocation framework (i.e. GLUE **link to GLUE page**) to demonstrate a functional application of multiple unmanned assets to achieve a complex tactical behavior. GLUE enables the optimal coordination, simultaneous task assignment, and subsequent execution of autonomous behaviors within a collaborating group of UxVs. An IADS Radar Deception behavior that leverages unmanned assets to mitigate leader exposure was derived and integrated to demonstrate the ability of the solution to exhibit AI and respond to dynamic conditions. The foundational basis for this effort was derived from ongoing development efforts and prior positive field exercises in response to analogous programs (e.g. OFFSET, SESU, and ongoing work with the University of Maryland and their Fearless Flight Facility).


  • Bounded performance results and traceability of the tactical behavior

  • Scalable to any number/type of platforms

  • No explicit requirements for host vehicle capabilities

  • Robust to situational awareness discrepancies

  • Significant reduction in operator burden through autonomous task generation and subsequent coordination

Ongoing Research

Heron Systems defines a collaborative subset of SoS consisting of heterogeneous agents with significantly diversified skills used to address the decomposition of a complex task in an optimal (as defined by an objective function) way a coalition. Coalitions are formulated to provide the SoS a capability to robustly respond to spontaneous opportunities resulting from adaptation of the situational awareness when executing over-the-horizon and reduce overall system coordination/communication burden.

GLUE – GLUE facilitates adapting agent action policies in dynamic response to vulnerabilities of the swarm. Foundational methods (e.g. describing the diversity of a coalition) can be leveraged to generate further abstract methods that are beneficial in assessing the effectiveness of the composition to achieve minimum readiness, redundancy, and diversity.