DARPA Reaches Out To Public For UAV Unsuccessfully
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
DARPA reached out to a community of unmanned air vehicle (UAV) enthusiasts to help create new military aircraft, but failed to find a worthy candidate to win the $100,000 prize.
The agency said it set out to determine if a group of enthusiasts could develop a military relevant back-pack portable UAV with specific capabilities.
The effort, according to DARPA, sought to inspire innovation and creative thought by lowering barriers to entry, and increasing the number of contributors.
It said over 140 teams and 3,500 individuals from 153 countries and territories took part in the UAVForge year-long competition.
UAVForge ended recently with nine finalist teams demonstrating air vehicles in a fly-off event in Ft. Stewart, Georgia.
DARPA said the fly-off scenario was conducted on a training site, and simulated a military perch-and-stare reconnaissance mission.
The contest required the UAVs to be able to perform a vertical take-off, navigate to an area beyond the line of sight, land on a structure to capture video, and then return to the starting point.
“While some teams were able to reach the observation area, none were able to land on a structure and complete the mission,” DARPA said in a press release.
The agency said that persistent, beyond-line-of-sight, soldier-portable perch and stare intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) is a significant mission area of interest.
It said the mission area shows promising capability, but also hurdles of asset cost and complexity of use to overcome.
“The teams brought creativity and enthusiasm to the competition,” Jim McCormick, DARPA program manager, said in a press release “The competition was more constructive than you might expect; there were many examples of teams helping each other.”
No team was able to win the $100,000 prize because none of the UAVs developed were able to complete the fly-off event. DARPA said that a design will not be manufactured for further testing in a military exercise, which was originally envisioned for the contest.