DARPA creating its own DIY Drones--"UAVForge"!!!

Holy crap. DARPA has just announced a project to use the DIY Drones model for the future of military UAVs. Called UAVForge, which is already up and running (although it crashes Firefox on my machine), it is described in the official request for proposals like this:


This initiative aims to produce a small, affordable, and easy to operate unmanned air vehicle capable of persistent perch and stare surveillance. The successful offeror will empower a diverse community of innovators and emergent design teams by providing manufacturing capabilities and assessments and producing up to 15 units of the winning design. The UAVForge initiative will employ a collaboration website and a fly-off competition, both developed and administered for DARPA/TTO by the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, Atlantic (SSC Atlantic), Charleston, SC.


Here's a conceptual video:


Many more details are in the full pdf description here. It's a $2 million project, with $100,000 going to the winning designer.


Some excerpts:


Small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) have proven important in modern military operations and
show promise for civil applications. Portable UAVs are used by the military for reconnaissance
missions and have been used commercially for tasks such as monitoring oil and gas pipelines,
and tracking wildfires. However, the effective use of state-of-the-art systems is constrained by
cost and performance as well as high logistic support and operator skill and workload demands,
compared to more routinely employed portable military equipment, like GPS and night vision

The UAVForge initiative will use a collaboration/competition crowdsource approach to produce
a small, affordable, and easy to operate UAV capable of persistent perch and stare surveillance.
Novel manufacturing concepts and resources will empower a diverse community of innovators
and emergent teams to deliver a superior UAV system solution relative to state-of-the-art
systems. The overall objective of UAVForge is to develop an aircraft that costs $10,000 or less
per unit, can be carried in a rucksack by an individual, can fly to and perch in useful locations at
several kilometers range for periods of several hours, and provide continuous, real-time
surveillance without dedicated or specialized operators.


In this solicitation, DARPA is seeking innovative manufacturing services to facilitate the
UAVForge initiative. The selected manufacturer will support collaboration and produce the
winning design from the UAVForge competition.


UAVForge is a DARPA/TTO initiative supported by the Space and Naval Warfare Systems
Center, Atlantic (SSC Atlantic), Charleston, South Carolina, to leverage the unique potential of
crowdsourcing. SSC Atlantic will develop and maintain the www.UAVForge.net website, which
provides participants with the virtual environment and tools necessary to organize and
collaborate independent of geographic location, education, profession, or experience. The virtual
environment features collaboration tools including shared and private information spaces,
message boards, mailing lists, and other features that enable effective collaboration.


Collaboration will focus on an objective list of small UAV capabilities (Appendix 1). A series of
multimedia-based milestones (Appendix 2) will encourage the formation of ad-hoc teams around
promising solutions. These teams will develop functional design prototypes. DARPA will select,
based on published criteria and crowd/manufacturer input, the top ten designs to participate in a
fly-off competition hosted by SSC Atlantic (Appendix 3). DARPA will select one winning
design based on the results of the competition and crowd/manufacturer input. The winning team
will receive a $100,000 prize and an invitation to participate in an exclusive overseas military
demonstration exercise.


The selected manufacturer from this solicitation will provide the winning team with a subcontract to produce an initial lot of up to 15 UAVs for government experimentation. The selected manufacturer will play an integral role in the evolution and execution of the UAVForge initiative. For planning purposes, award of the manufacturing services contract will occur four months after the start of UAVForge collaboration and four months before the fly-off competition.

Views: 2697

3D Robotics
Comment by Julian on May 25, 2011 at 11:06am

woah! i like it.


3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on May 25, 2011 at 11:15am
Wired's Danger Room blog picked this up first (and let me know). They've now posted.
Comment by Paul on May 25, 2011 at 11:44am
Sounds like open ideas theft to me but then that seems the way almost all the company's with funds do these days. just look at how every photographic competition now claims all right to images entered cheap and quick way to build a rights free image database. this just feels the same a tiny reward but we get all your ideas as we can see everything that your doing on our flashy web site........
Comment by Paul Mather on May 25, 2011 at 11:45am

I find it interesting that the grand prize is $100K....and seemingly the rights to whatever it is that you made.... Sure seems like they're getting off cheap when your typical military project is from tens of millions to tens of billions....


I'd be interested in winning the competition....and then letting them know my designs are for sale....for $10 million.


God I hate the government....and Chris, this is a military post. I thought those were not allowed.

http://www.darpa.mil not darpa.com.....

Comment by Paul on May 25, 2011 at 11:53am
They do state in the blurb that they have out sourced the website design also the running of the site and all its contents. this just adds another level of what ideas did we steal its not our site. sad really why not just come here and post the competition........
Comment by Mike on May 25, 2011 at 12:09pm
Military on DIYD - tut-tut!
Comment by Azam Shahani on May 25, 2011 at 12:14pm
So can we expect the Diydrones team to enter this competition Chris?
Comment by Kevin Bouchard on May 25, 2011 at 12:17pm
I have to support HappyKillmore and Mike here. If anyone else than Chris posted this, it would have already been deleted. The competition has "military" written all over it. Either the whole community should comply with the DIYdrones policy, or no one should.

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on May 25, 2011 at 12:22pm

I thought this is big enough news and so much on the intersection of the military and amateur UAVs worlds that it was worth making an exception for. As sysadmin, I have to make judgement calls when things bridge the two worlds, and my judgement was that this story served the interest of this community. We call 'em like we see 'em.

Comment by ionut on May 25, 2011 at 1:12pm
Kevin relax man.It's just news.No plans or stuff like this.The problem is what are Darpa thinking.Maybe they should run a middle east site, where people like to make their weapons.


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