The use of drones is not new in the US military. The use of attack drones is not new, but the creation of attack drones as part of a network of attack drones designed to counter other attack drones? That’s something new. Time to meet the “Interceptor.”

Birth of The Interceptor

The developer of the Interceptor, Anduril is a company founded in 2017 by some of the heaviest hitters in the world of technology and artificial intelligence. According to their website, “We are a team of experts from Oculus, Palantir, SpaceX, Tesla and Google exploiting breakthroughs in consumer and commercial technology to radically evolve our defense capabilities.” In other words, these are some really smart people who are looking around at what technology is already out there and seeing different ways to use it to provide security and defense.

A render of Anduril’s Interceptor drone. (Anduril)

One Drone to Rule Them All

A quick Google search for Anduril returns, surprise, the company website. Scroll down one and you see that Anduril is also the name of Aragorn’s sword in The Lord of the Rings. Some people, like me, say “Cool!” Others have no idea what a Lord of a Ring is. For those not in the know, Anduril is the sword carried by Aragorn, the one true king. Forged from the shards of Narsil… That’s a deep rabbit hole.

The point being, Anduril the sword was forged from the shards of an older sword that had done some very cool stuff. Anduril the company has taken shards of intelligence and innovation and forged them into new technologies. Just like the sword, Anduril was made for battle, Anduril the company’s Interceptor drone system is made for battle, and so much more.

Screen capture from Lord of the Rings, Return Of The King

From Entertainment to Defense

Anduril was founded by Palmer Luckey, co-founder of the Oculus Virtual Reality system that provides immersive entertainment at an attractive price point. Luckey co-founded Oculus in 2012, sold it to Facebook for $2B in 2014, he involuntarily left Facebook in 2016 perhaps under pressure by a small but vocal Leftist element that disagreed with his more right-wing views.

After he left, he turned to the defense sector and founded Anduril.

In 2018, Anduril began testing a system of drones and sensors at the southern border of the US. These systems were called Lattice, and the data they provide allows border patrols to build real-time 3d models of conditions at the border. The Lattice system gave border patrol agents a comprehensive view of people, places, and things at or near the border, within range of the sensors. Adding drones to the mix provided another layer to the information maps produced by the system.

Marine Testing

Anduril’s Lattice Sentry Towers provide autonomous perimeter defense at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, allowing base security to patrol busier areas. (Lance Cpl. Jose GuerreroDeLeon/Marine Corps)

The Marine Corps has also tested the Lattice system. In late 2018, the Camp Pendleton Twitter account shared a video highlighting the Marines’ use of Lattice sensors and drones to patrol a section of the California coast. Being able to passively scan an area, respond with active surveillance as threats emerge, then respond with force if necessary, is leaps and bounds ahead of traditional active surveillance techniques. Developing the Interceptor to autonomously intercept and “kill” other rotary or fixed-wing drones, shortens the response chain of dealing with unmanned aerial vehicles employed by an aggressor.