DARPA have created a crowd sourced sUAS design competition with a $100,000 dollar prize. They are now looking for companies to develop the winning designs.

This is the second major ticket competition to be announced this year for sUAS. The Chinese carrier landing competition carries a total prize fund of $378,000. To date the Outback Challenge in Australia has been the UAV competition of choice. It will be interesting to see if these newcomers can generate the same amount of interest and support from the sUAS community.

Researchers at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency are asking industry to develop a small, bird-like unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) small enough to fit in a soldier’s rucksack and able to fly to and perch on useful locations for several hours near targets of interest to provide continuous, real-time persistent surveillance without help from human operators.

The craft must fly a distance of at least two miles avoiding obstacles and then sit on a building for at  three hours observing before coming home in time for tea and medals.

The DARPA Tactical Technology Office released a broad-agency announcement Wednesday (DARPA-BAA-11-35) for the UAVForge Manufacturing Services program to develop a small, affordable, and easy-to-operate UAV for persistent surveillance in aperch-and-stare mode. DARPA plans to spend about $2 million on the project.

Specifically, DARPA wants to find a contractor to lead companies and teams of companies by providing manufacturing expertise and assessments, as well as building as many as 15 of the perch-and-stare persistent-surveillance miniature UAV. The program will have a fly-off competition to help determine the winning design.

The winning contractor will lead development efforts, but will not be eligible to participate in the design and development competition, DARPA officials say. Administering the UAVForge program for DARPA will be officials of the U.S. Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic in Charleston, S.C.



By Tiaan Roux

CIO, sUAS News | "My interest in UAS began in 2006 in the Masai Mara, Kenya where I was working as a bush pilot and met Gary Mortimer. I have always loved computers, maps, aerial photos and any kind of flying thing so the UAS addiction quickly took hold. Since then my interest in these technologies has grown from just an interest to building and flying small UAS as well as getting involved with sUAS News."