The U.S. Army has for the first time tested swarms of consumer drones during a major military training exercise and determined the low-cost technology is at a stage where it could be used offensively.

Off-the-shelf drones have brought what was previously complex and expensive technology into the reach of consumers, and the military was curious to see how much of a threat that might pose.

So it brought consumer quadcopters and octocopters to the Network Integration Evaluation war games that concluded earlier this month at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, and Fort Bliss, Texas.

During the exercise, which is used by the Army to help evaluate new technology, the drones were deployed as a swarm to simulate a threat. Later, the Army expanded the trials to discover whether it might be able to make use of the same technology.

The findings could hasten development by the U.S. military of defensive systems to guard against consumer drones deployed against its forces and modifications to drones so that they may be used against foes.

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