Proliferated Autonomous Weapons: An Example of Cooperative Behavior

Publication Date: January 1998

Publisher: RAND Corporation

Author(s): William Stanley; Joel Kvitky; David R. Frelinger

Research Area: Military and defense

Type: Brief


This research (1) develops the rationale for investigating cooperative behavior between PRoliferated Autonomous WeapoNs, or PRAWNs, (2) develops the conceptual basis for implementing cooperative behavior (in biology and robotics), (3) identifies weapon applications for systems embodying these concepts and assesses their effectiveness, (4) examines technical approaches for meeting the communications and sensor needs of the weapons, and (5) makes suggestions for maturing the weapon concept. In this concept, individual weapons may be less capable than conventional weapons under development today, but through communications across the swarm of weapons, the group exhibits behaviors and capabilities that can exceed those demonstrated by systems that do not employ communications. Possible benefits include relaxed sensor performance requirements, robustness to increases in target location errors, and adaptivity to attrition and poor target characterization. This work is part of a larger RAND Project AIR FORCE study entitled New Concepts for Ground Attack.