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Could lay groundwork for smart airborne fleet CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- The U.S. military depends on small, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to perform such tasks as serving as "eyes in the sky" for battalion commanders planning maneuvers. While some of these UAVs can be easily carried in a backpack and launched by hand, they typically require a team of trained operators on the ground, and they perform only short-term tasks individually rather than sustained missions in coordinated groups.