Record-breaking drone swarm: China launches 119 drones at once

13 Jun 2017 | By Ramya Patelkhana

China broke a world record by launching a swarm of 119 fixed-wing drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

They performed catapult-assisted takeoffs and formations in the sky.

China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) claimed the feat broke the previous record of 67 drones.

CETC said 'swarm intelligence' is the core of Artificial Intelligence of UAVs and the future of intelligent drones.

In context: Chinese drone formation world record

What is a drone?

Technically, a drone is an unmanned aircraft, formally called Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Drones are dubbed as 'flying robots'. They can fly autonomously through software-controlled flight plans or remotely controlled. They are usually equipped with cameras and can also be armed with missiles.

13 Jun 2017Record-breaking drone swarm: China launches 119 drones at once

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Drone squadrons: A disruptive force to change the game

Intelligent SwarmsDrone squadrons: A disruptive force to change the game

Project Scientist and CETC Engineer Zhao Yanjie said that since drones were invented in 1917, intelligent drone swarms have become a disruptive force to change the game in air battles.

Recent Chinese official media reports said China's military is testing to launch mass armed UAVs as a new technique in battles.

Currently, China is the world's largest drone maker.

Unmanned aircraft launched in several batches

The drones were reportedly launched in batches with the help of a power-assisted take-off system similar to the one used by fighter jets on aircraft carriers. After being launched, the UAVs regrouped for a formation flight and then split away to pursuit targets.

Drone DeploymentChina in a leading position on deployment of drones

The Chinese drone making company Ehang said the technological breakthrough has made China a leader in the large deployment of drones.

Earlier this year, the company had launched a 1,000-drone squadron into the air; however, they were powered by rotary wing technology.

Ehang is one of the main suppliers of electronic equipment to the People's Liberation Army.

CapabilitiesDrones no longer depend on human commands

Zhao Yanjie said that previously, drone controllers were able to fly only one or a small number of the UAVs as they heavily depended on human commands.

But drones can now fly with a very little human intervention using advanced technology and artificial intelligence.

It also allows drones to coordinate flight paths, avoiding collisions and to divide their labor to accomplish separate missions.

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UsesWhat are drones used for?

Drones are used in military operations and surveillance; they can search for suspect vehicles in the largest possible areas in the shortest time.

Drones are used for remote sensing, commercial aerial surveillance, oil & gas and mineral exploration, and disaster relief (establishing emergency networks).

They are also used for commercial and motion picture filmmaking, real estate and construction, and recreational purposes.