DARPA’s Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment (CODE) program seeks to help the U.S. military’s unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) conduct dynamic, long-distance engagements of highly mobile ground and maritime targets in denied or contested electromagnetic airspace, all while reducing required communication bandwidth and cognitive burden on human supervisors.
CODE’s main objective is to develop and demonstrate the value of collaborative autonomy, in which UASs could perform sophisticated tasks both individually and in teams under the supervision of a single human mission commander. CODE-equipped UASs would perform their mission by sharing data, negotiating assignments, and synchronizing actions and communications among team members and with the commander. CODE’s modular open software architecture on board the UASs would enable multiple CODE-equipped unmanned aircraft to navigate to their destinations and find, track, identify, and engage targets under established rules of engagement. The UASs could also recruit other CODE-equipped UASs from nearby friendly forces to augment their own capabilities and adapt to dynamic situations such as attrition of friendly forces or the emergence of unanticipated threats.
CODE seeks to deliver a software system that would be resilient to bandwidth limitations and communications disruptions, yet compatible with existing standards and capable of affordable retrofit into existing platforms. If successfully demonstrated, these scalable, cost-effective capabilities would greatly enhance the survivability, flexibility, and effectiveness of existing air platforms, as well as reduce the development times and costs of future systems.