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Modeling and simulation of large scale deployments of autononomous systems


OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Trusted AI and Autonomy; Integrated Network System-of-Systems; Human-Machine Interfaces


The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this topic are:

  1. To further progress towards the vision for swarms of UAVs outlined in the USAF Small UAS Flight Plan (2016-2036) (reference 1) and the DoD Small UAS Capability Description Document (draft - 2023). Those documents describe the potential mission impact that large numbers of affordable but capable UAVs could have. The Flight Plan also defines key system attributes and technical challenges as well as acquisition strategies that mitigate those challenges.
  2. To further progress in this area the focus of this specific topic is on the modeling and simulation of autonomous systems at large scale in activities such as maritime surveillance, base defense, suppressing enemy air defense systems and supporting air operations.


DESCRIPTION: This topic focuses on modeling and simulation (M&S) of large scale deployments of autonomous system in support of military operations. The M&S efforts will use simple models of the platforms and sensors and focus on command and control (C2), communications requirements, collaboration between autonomous systems, tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) and strategies for employment.


The primary driver for these simulations is the development of approaches to decentralized command and control of these systems including collaboration between small groups of autonomous systems with limited communication to higher level controllers.


The decentralized aspect is important because the goal is for autonomous systems to be able to coordinate their activities in small groups while operating under a set of higher level commands.

The initial use cases involve UAVs for maritime surveillance, but the modeling framework should be extensible to other types of autonomous systems. To stress the generality this topic description uses the phrase “drones” to mean any robotic system with some degree of autonomy.


PHASE I: Phase I award(s) will focus on defining architectures and implementation for modeling and simulation of decentralized command and control of autonomous systems at scale. The goals for this effort include defining an approach that aligns with the USAF primary system simulator, AFSIM. Ideally simulations done using the decentralized C2 simulator can be used to guide the higher fidelity simulations done using AFSIM.


Deliverables from this phase would include designs for simulation frameworks with open interfaces enabling developers of C2 and machine learning algorithms to incorporate their software into the simulations.



PHASE II: Phase II award(s) will focus on development and testing of the modeling and simulation environments, adding visualizations, developing common libraries for integration with data feeds, AI/ML and building human interfaces.


PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Collaborative autonomous systems will have a role in public safety, logistics and other commercial activities. Modeling and simulation of these capabilities will be necessary for successful employment. This technology will likely have a large impact on society in the next 5 to 10 years.

Commercial applications for mission planning, command and control and system test and verification would benefit from having a robust modeling and simulation capability.




  1. USAF Small UAS Flight Plan (2016-3036);
  2. DoD Small UAS Capability Description Document (DOD SUAS CDD);
  3. Papers by PLA researchers;


KEYWORDS: UAV;drone;swarm;digital engineering;mbse;model-based systems engineering;autonomy

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