DARPA challenge offers public $100,000 for small unmanned aircraft

DARPA challenge wants unmanned aircraft that can fly three hours, support video

If you think you can build the next generation of unmanned flying aircraft, the scientists at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) want to hear from you.

DARPA and the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center want "everyone from scientists, engineers, citizen scientists and dreamers" to collaborate and build a small unmanned aircraft for its $100,000 UAVForge Challenge.

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DARPA said self-selected teams will participate in a series of peer-reviewed milestones where participant rating will identify the top ten teams that advance to the UAVForge Fly-Off Competition. During the competition, vehicles will be tested in a simulated high-stress surveillance mission.

The types of aircraft the challenge is looking for must fit in a rucksack that can be carried by one person. It must be able to take off vertically and fly for three hours - in winds up to 15 MPH.  It should fly at least two miles from its starting point and  must support real-time video. 

The winning team will be awarded $100,000 and the opportunity to showcase its design in an overseas military exercise. Additionally, the winning team will work with a government-selected UAV manufacturer to produce a limited quantity of systems for future warfighter experimentation, DARPA stated.

This is the second crowdsourcing project DARPA has initiated this year.  In Feb., DARPA issued a $10,000 challenge to the general public to design a next-generation military fighting vehicle.  Specifically, DARPA's Experimental Crowd-derived Combat-support Vehicle (XC2V) Design Challenge, sponsored by advanced vehicle manufacturer, Local Motors calls for the general public to "conceptualize a vehicle body design for two different missions-Combat Reconnaissance and Combat Delivery & Evacuation."

DARPA is trying to reduce the current military vehicle development and  processes from today's multi-year-long process.  Crowdsourcing such development would also open the military to "greater ideas and design compilation with a reduction in time and the potential for a better performing vehicle."

Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter: nwwlayer8  

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