UAVs are getting smarter individually but there are still opportunities for cleverness in the ways they interact.
Today’s invention is a way to build larger autonomous aircraft by having conventional ones join up in flight. Each vehicle would have eg electromagnetic patches on the wingtips, enabling autonomous docking without ultraprecise manoeuvring.
As with migrating geese, this would help with fuel efficiency when flying long distances. In the event that such a swarm of vehicles were attacked, any damaged ones could be disengaged very rapidly and a new configuration automatically adopted.
This robustness could be further enhanced by having these machines duplicate each other’s gathered data, exchange fuel in flight and adapt their grouping shape and sizes to minimise detectability.