DARPA Needs Your Ideas for Drone Swarms

By Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Outreach

DARPA is looking for people with innovative ideas to participate in its “swarm sprint” exercises. The project would inform tactics and technologies for large groups of unmanned air and ground robots in certain environments.

The OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) program envisions future small-unit infantry forces using small unmanned aircraft systems and/or small unmanned ground systems in swarms of 250 robots or more to accomplish diverse missions in complex urban environments. By leveraging and combining emerging technologies in swarm autonomy and human-swarm teaming, the program seeks to enable rapid development and deployment of breakthrough capabilities to the field.

Roughly every six months, DARPA plans to solicit proposals from potential sprinters, with each swarm sprint focusing on one of five thrust areas:

  • swarm tactics
  • swarm autonomy
  • human-swarm teaming
  • virtual environment
  • physical testbed

Here’s more about the project.

DARPA is awarding Phase 1 contracts to teams led by Raytheon BBN Technologies and the Northrop Grumman Corporation. Each team will serve as a swarm systems integrator tasked with designing, developing, and deploying an open architecture for swarm technologies in physical and virtual environments. Each system would include an extensible game-based architecture to enable design and integration of swarm tactics, a swarm tactics exchange to foster community interaction, immersive interfaces for collaboration among teams of humans and swarm systems, and a physical testbed to validate developed capabilities.

Participants for the first core sprint are needed now. The focus of this effort is the generation of swarm tactics for a mixed swarm of 50 air and ground robots to isolate an urban objective within an area of two square city blocks over a mission duration of 15 to 30 minutes. Visit DARPA to learn about where to submit your proposal.

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