Thursday, September 16, 2021

DIU – Advanced Autonomous Short Range Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL)

Overview: The Department of Defense (DoD) seeks commercial small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) solutions to support the U.S. Army’s Short Range Reconnaissance (SRR) Tranche 2 effort and other potential DoD and U.S. Government partners. The desired solution is an inexpensive, small, rucksack portable, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) UAS that provides a platoon (20-50 soldiers) with a rapidly deployable surveillance and reconnaissance capability to gain situational understanding beyond the next terrain feature. The SRR Tranche 2 project will focus on enhancing the baseline capabilities of previously fielded sUAS primarily through the implementation of increased levels of mission autonomy and end-user feedback.  

Acquisition Strategy: Acquisition will follow the DIU Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO) process with the goal of awarding prototype Other Transaction Agreements (OTA) to one or more companies who meet the intent of this Area of Interest (AoI). Performance throughout the Prototype OTA to include operational evaluation, will inform the decision regarding which system(s) are awarded a follow-on Production OTA for wider fielding. 

System Requirements: The system specifications listed below serve as the criteria by which the Government will evaluate companies’ technology baseline and determine the technical maturity of proposed solutions. These criteria will continue to be refined throughout the prototype process based on technical developments and warfighter feedback. All changes and updates will be made available to industry accordingly.  

Flight Performance: 

  • The unmanned aircraft (UA) shall be capable of VTOL with greater than 30 minute flight endurance
  • The UA shall have a greater than 3 km range while being teleoperated and simultaneously streaming live video
  • The UA shall be capable of operating at least 8,000 ft density altitude and operate in 15 knot winds or greater
  • The proposed solution should minimize acoustic signature to the maximum extent practicable. Vendors should demonstrate acoustic signature reduction considerations within their proposal (Solution Brief (SB))

Operations and Logistics:

  • UA assembly and disassembly should take two (2) minutes or less by a single person 
  • The UA shall be delivered with an Operators manual and field repair kit with minimal use of special tools
  • The UA airframe, including battery and payload, should be able to fit within case(s) that are easily transported on or in a medium assault rucksack type pack for a patrol mission duration of at least eight (8) hours with a target takeoff weight not exceeding 3 lbs with preference on lighter systems. Increased capability and flight performance traded for increased weight will be considered. The transit case(s) should be durable enough to protect the UA from environmental and operational impacts
  • The target price point for the proposed solution (to include hardware and software costs) is less than $10,000 at purchase quantity one (1) and should decrease in accordance with sales volume. For the purposes of cost estimates, a system includes one (1) air vehicle, one (1) ground controller, one (1) battery, and all associated software
  • The UA should be durable and reliable enough to complete twenty five operationally relevant missions with minimal operator level maintenance
  • The UA should be able to operate within IP-58 standards and in temperatures ranging from 0 degrees Fahrenheit to 130 degrees Fahrenheit

System Configuration:

  • The system shall be compliant Section 848 of the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act and Section 841 of the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act
  • The UA’s flight controller shall provide access to functionality from the onboard computer through Government accessible application programming interface (API)
  • The UA’s onboard computer shall have enough computing capability to run industry standard autonomous behaviors such as obstacle avoidance, autonomous path planning, localization, and mapping in unknown and global navigation satellite system denied environments
  • The UA should be capable of obstacle avoidance and autonomous flight maneuver during daylight/no-light/low-light conditions 
  • The UA’s onboard computer shall be able to receive and run trained neural networks, perform inference on its environment without negatively affecting flight performance, and provide two-way communication back to the operator through the open API
  • The UA should include field swappable, steerable, stabilized, and sensing mission payload interface with available cameras to include, at minimum, a combination of electro-optical (EO) and/or infrared (IR) sensors
  • The UA shall have the capability to enable detection of people and vehicles at standoff ranges of 300 m (EO) and 200 m (IR) through transmitted full motion video
  • The UA should be capable of operably connecting and safely flying an optional secondary payload that is accessible to the user through the user interface software. The secondary payload interface shall be open, using industry standards, and support third party development 
  • The UA shall provide flight modes that reduce manual operation that include but are not limited to follow-me, follow target(s), reduce power, orbit target, and autonomous, geographically separated take-off and landing
  • The UA shall reduce operator workload through autonomous behaviors such as real-time path planning with obstacle avoidance, task-based mission autonomy, and optimization of onboard resources given mission and environmental constraints. The software that enables these autonomous behaviors shall be capable of being configured by the end user to tailor UA behavior to mission needs

Communications and Security:

  • The UA shall use the MAVLink open communications protocol for communications to a ground control station (GCS) and an open video protocol. The UA should be able to accept and implement a specific dialect of MAVLink, if directed. This does not preclude additional message sets for functionality not supported by MAVLink
  • The UA shall be interoperable with a Government specified GCS, which runs a MAVLink compliant GCS application
  • The UA shall be made secure from unauthorized data access such as interference with or cyber-attacks on the system
  • Data stored onboard and transmitted over the air between the UA and the GCS should be compliant with FIPS 140-3. All data shall at a minimum be encrypted by AES-256
  • The UA shall be capable of operating within all of the following frequency bands: 1625-1725 MHz (M1), 1780-1850 MHz (M2), 2025-2110 MHz (M5), 2200-2290 MHz (M3), 2310-2390 MHz (M4), and 2400-2500 MHz (M6). The occupied bandwidth shall be selectable by the user up to 5 MHz. The UA communications subsystem shall support all other requirements specified in this document (range, resolution, etc)
  • The data link should support dynamic power levels based on the UA to GCS distance

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