DOD tests drone ‘hive’ for rapid resupply

From Defense Systems News:

Marine Reserves Maj. Christopher Thobaben came up with the idea for an automated system for delivering supplies to troops. He sent a basic sketch to a friend who told him to make it official.

“I was very critical of Marine Corps logistics and our innovation since World War II,” Thobaben said. For more than a half-century, he argued, “we basically just made the horse faster.”

Thobaben’s idea for moving supply delivery to drones was demonstrated March 14 at the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Va. The Hive Final Mile project consists of a mobile application for placing orders to drones, an automated drone launcher (the Hive), software for determining what drone to fly and managing flight paths, and a cloud storage component for keeping track of all the flights and orders.

Everything starts with an Android tablet.

Kyle Aron, an engineer with Soar Technology, helped build a plugin for the Android Tactical Assault Kit (ATAK), a mapping application originally developed by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Air Force Research Laboratory. Users place orders via the app for ammunition, a tourniquet, water or any other available item that can be delivered by drone. They then specify the drop-off location and other variables.

ATAK sends the request to Sentien Robotics’ Shepherd software, which automates parts of the process. First, it automatically decides what kind of drone it needs to send — do the troops need an eye in the sky? It’ll send one outfitted with a camera.  Do medics need an order of insulin? Shepherd send a drone that delivers medical supplies.

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