The Delft developers of drones Delft Dynamics and Tective Robotics will, in partnership with TNO and Avalor AI, establish an autonomous drone swarm that can be utilized by military personnel to collect tactical intelligence. The idea is that a person operator can launch several drones that will then carry out a task separately and in mutual cooperation.


The task called SPEAR (Swarm-based Persistent Autonomous Reconnaissance) is supported by the Robotics & Autonomous Systems (RAS) system of the 13th Light Brigade, a Dutch independent fight system within the Royal Army. The drone swarm should add to enhanced Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition & Reconnaissance (ISTAR) capability of the army part.

The project includes numerous parts. An algorithm will be established that can manage an autonomous drone swarm. There will also be algorithms based upon maker finding out to recognize and categorize goals. When it pertains to the drones, they will be able to separately carry out battery modifications through mobile launch & recovery platforms.

System Integration

The spearhead of the SPEAR job concerns the combination of all these subsystems, so that a multifunctional drone swarm is created separately. For this purpose, numerous tasks will be used inside and outside Defence. The ultimate objective is to be able to offer more ISTAR capability with less manpower.

Delft Dynamics and Tective Robotics are responsible for the advancement of all dron-related hardware, as well as mobile docking stations. As the basis for the drone box, the mobile SkyHive system of Tective Robotics is taken, which can support approximately five drones. With this system, the Delft start-up won the Defense Innovation Competition in 2019. Avalor AI and TNO are involved in the advancement of the smart algorithms.

Autonomous military drones growing

worldwide, developments are going hard when it concerns autonomously operating drones for military functions. There are even armed unmanned systems in use that can separately identify and disable targets from the air. Worldwide, resistance to such self-governing systems is growing. When it comes to the Dutch SPEAR job, there is no question of armed drones.

Arnout de Jong (director Delft Dynamics) stresses that the system outside Defence can likewise be utilized for search & rescue operations. “Think of the present floods in Limburg or the search for a missing out on person or drowning individual.”