DARPA wants you to design its next UAV

Posted by Kate Taylor

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has had a great idea about how to develop the next generation of small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) - it wants you to do it.

Along with the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic, it's launched a $100,000 competition to come up withe designs for a user-intuitive, backpack-portable UAV that can quietly fly in and out of critical environments to conduct surveillance for up to three hours.

DARPA's looking for designs that have better takeoff and landing capabilities, better endurance, that need less support equipment and that are adaptable to mission needs in varying conditions.

"The UAVForge crowd-sourced approach seeks to capture and mature novel ideas and systems integration methods from communities outside the traditional DoD acquisition process," says Jim McCormick, DARPA program manager.

Individuals or complete teams can sign up, using the UAVForge website to collaborate; DARPA says it's looking particularly for students, hobbyists and small business owners.

will take in a series of peer-reviewed challenges, with the top ten teams that advancing to the UAVForge Fly-Off Competition. Vehicles will be tested in a simulated high-stress surveillance mission.

"We’re excited to see what innovative ideas emerge, so we’re trying to give individuals and teams lots of time to develop their concepts prior to the initial design submission date planned for late this fall," says McCormick.

The successful team will win $100,000, along with the opportunity to showcase its design in an overseas military exercise. The team will also work with a government-selected UAV manufacturer to produce a limited quantity of systems for future warfighter experimentation.