It’s difficult to predict what future technology will accomplish, but it’s clear that drone technology must improve for the multidomain operations battlefield.
Drone technology likely will improve exponentially, but there’s new technology on the horizon that could make drones more effective and deadly. The U.S. Army must develop this technology for drones to operate on the wireless spectrum, allow drones to operate autonomously through charging loops, and let drones use the electromagnetic spectrum to keep them in flight indefinitely.
To develop technology for drones to operate on the wireless spectrum, the Army needs to develop advanced semiconductors. Technological advances in the field of drones will require smaller, less expensive, more powerful and more efficient technologies than today’s drone technology. Experts are developing semiconductors of this sort at the University of Michigan by printing nanowires onto flexible substrates with graphene and other thin films.
Because nanowires are considerably smaller than current electronics, they may be used to replace other semiconductor components. They perform at high speed, therefore, they might be utilized to replicate the functionality of contemporary wireless technology.
The danger of being shot down from ground-to-air fire exists when a drone flies over a battle to preserve air superiority. The most popular weapons used against unmanned aerial vehicles are laser-guided missiles, which can be used against fixed targets. Laser weapons can hit targets beyond the horizon line at night or in bad weather. To date, military officials claim that this is not an issue, since drones fly high enough to avoid these weapons.
On the other hand, drones with infrared cameras can be more effective at finding targets as they get higher. However, as they rise higher and farther away from their operators, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to identify objects. The military requires a technology that will allow drones to bridge this gap by using radio frequencies.
The two most essential factors in all wireless communications devices are the amount of power they consume and their bandwidth—the quantity of information they can send or receive over a set period. The drone must communicate with its controller, who must give it the required instructions without being in visual contact. Because radar may detect threats at a greater distance than eyesight, the drone’s viewpoint on events will include data from the wireless spectrum and radar.
Global Energy Transmission Corp. co-founder William Kallman was quoted on the Futurism website in January 2019 about how his firm has devised a way to utilize an electromagnetic field to keep drones in the air for an indefinite period, and the implications of the technology are hard to overstate. Global Energy Transmission has developed a method to generate a “power cloud” that can charge a drone while it’s in flight, according to Kallman.
The ground-based power station is a circular frame of wire. When the wire is activated, an electromagnetic field is generated in the air around the facility. A drone with special antennae flies into the energy cloud’s magnetic field to charge. Drones can be charged simultaneously inside the perimeter, and the system is transportable, so it can be set up and relocated as needed.
Drones will need the ability to use the electromagnetic spectrum to fly indefinitely. The electromagnetic spectrum also allows the military to utilize drones for more extended periods for observation or detection. Unmanned aircraft will be able to stay in the air indefinitely using technology similar to Global Energy Transmission’s power cloud, according to projections.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has launched projects to boost the performance and capabilities of drones. The Vertical Takeoff and Landing Experimental Plane, a multiyear research project funded by DARPA, aims to create technologies for future military planes that can take off and land vertically as well as fly efficiently.
Drones may be utilized for various purposes due to the electromagnetic spectrum, including reconnaissance, surveillance and communication. The areas where the drone’s information can be sent without relying on external sources are limited solely by its battery capacity and how much information can fit into such a small area.
Capacity and price will be essential factors in the future of drones and unmanned aircraft. The technology must prove cost-effective and efficient enough for military personnel to feel it’s well worth their investment. Eventually, it is hoped that drones will fly indefinitely and serve as a more cost-effective alternative to military personnel.
Global Energy Transmission’s power cloud would require significantly less energy consumption than current methods. It is designed to support ongoing missions for up to six months, and traditional drone batteries must be changed out after one hour. This technology would be less costly than the current method of refueling drones with manned aircraft. Global Energy Transmission’s long-term vision is to create a network that will allow thousands of drones to share power and information wirelessly.
Sharing power and information would improve drone capabilities. Imagine a squad of soldiers fighting an uphill battle somewhere in the mountains. Global Energy Transmission’s wireless power cloud system could be used to increase their range of sight by thousands of feet with drones that are always flying above them. The power cloud system would allow the Army to see the surrounding areas much more clearly than with current technology.
This also would greatly assist sustainers on the battlefield. Logistics are considered the backbone of any successful military operation, so having drones to assist could make all the difference. This type of technology would help the Army stay one step ahead and improve sustainment. No longer would resupply convoys always have to brave dangerous roads with soldiers in the open. Drones also could help destroy targets in advance along potentially hazardous routes.
The future of drones lies within the electromagnetic spectrum, which will enable them to fly for extended periods and provide more capabilities to sustainers on the battlefield. The benefits are endless, and the Army will be able to use unmanned aircraft in innovative ways to take care of soldiers on the battlefield.
The electromagnetic spectrum is part of the broader electromagnetic field. It contains different frequency bands that are utilized for other purposes. The electromagnetic spectrum can support non-line-of-sight communications, and it has an advantage over traditional radio frequency signals that are only able to support line-of-sight applications.
Drones may assist in unloading supplies from ships at ports and transporting them to military bases. This would reduce the manpower necessary to support operations, thereby reducing costs and improving efficiency. This is the future of drones, and it is only a matter of time before they become more efficient. All services eventually will use this type of technology to improve their capabilities on today’s dynamic battlefield. The electromagnetic spectrum will be the game changer in the future of unmanned aircraft operations.
The electromagnetic spectrum will be the future home of drones, allowing them to fly for extended periods and providing more functions to sustainers in the field. There are several advantages, and the Army can utilize unmanned aircraft in innovative ways to support troops engaged in combat.
Maj. Jamie Schwandt, U.S. Army Reserve, is a logistics officer and Red Team member. He is certified as a Department of the Army Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt and has a doctorate in adult education from Kansas State University.