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Military has small UAS competition

ARLINGTON, Va., May 31 (UPI) -- The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is having a design and test competition for small, backpack-portable unmanned aerial vehicles.

The open competition, called UAVForge Challenge, is co-sponsored by the U.S. Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, Atlantic, and carries a prize of $100,000.

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The UAVForge challenge uses crowd sourcing to build small UAVs through an exchange of ideas and design practices. The goal is to build and test a user-intuitive, backpack-portable UAV that can quietly fly in and out of critical environments to conduct sustained surveillance for up to three hours.

"The UAVForge crowd-sourced approach seeks to capture and mature novel ideas and systems integration methods from communities outside the traditional Department of Defense acquisition process," said Jim McCormick, DARPA program manager.

DARPA said self-selected teams will participate in a series of peer-reviewed milestones in which participant rating will identify the 10 teams that advance to the UAVForge Fly-Off Competition. During the competition, vehicles will undergo a simulated high-stress surveillance mission.

"This is a fascinating challenge and the solution space is wide open," said McCormick. "We're excited to see what innovative ideas emerge, so we're trying to give individuals and teams lots of time to develop their concepts prior to the initial design submission date planned for late this fall."

The winning team will be awarded $100,000 and the opportunity to showcase its design in an overseas military exercise. It will also work with a government-selected UAV manufacturer to produce a limited quantity of systems for future warfighter experimentation.

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