Policy Support for Autonomous Swarms of Drones

  • Alan Cullen
  • Erisa KarafiliEmail author
  • Alan Pilgrim
  • Chris Williams
  • Emil Lupu
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11263)


In recent years drones have become more widely used in military and non-military applications. Automation of these drones will become more important as their use increases. Individual drones acting autonomously will be able to achieve some tasks, but swarms of autonomous drones working together will be able to achieve much more complex tasks and be able to better adapt to changing environments. In this paper we describe an example scenario involving a swarm of drones from a military coalition and civil/humanitarian organisations that are working collaboratively to monitor areas at risk of flooding. We provide a definition of a swarm and how they can operate by exchanging messages. We define a flexible set of policies that are applicable to our scenario that can be easily extended to other scenarios or policy paradigms. These policies ensure that the swarms of drones behave as expected (e.g., for safety and security). Finally we discuss the challenges and limitations around policies for autonomous swarms and how new research, such as generative policies, can aid in solving these limitations.


Swarm Drone systems Policies Coalitions 



This research was sponsored by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the U.K. Ministry of Defence under Agreement Number W911NF-16-3-0001. The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, the U.S. Government, the U.K. Ministry of Defence or the U.K. Government. The U.S. and U.K. Governments are authorized to reproduce and distribute reprints for Government purposes notwithstanding any copyright notation hereon.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan Cullen
    • 1
  • Erisa Karafili
    • 2
    Email author
  • Alan Pilgrim
    • 1
  • Chris Williams
    • 3
  • Emil Lupu
    • 2
  1. 1.BAE Systems Applied Intelligence LaboratoriesGreat BaddowUK
  2. 2.Imperial College LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.Defence Scientific and Technology LaboratoryLondonUK

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