What if a drone could fly straight through your window at 45 miles per hour and zip around inside while navigating and gathering data all by itself?
That would be very bad news for bad guys. Hiding inside structures, keeping hostages hidden inside buildings and more would just be ineffective.
DARPA’s new Fast Lightweight Autonomy (FLA) program aims to create these small, fast drones. These little guys will be able to fly really quickly covering 20 meters in just one second — a speed that means the drone can also keep up with the pace of tactical operations.
Birds in the wild, like the goshawk that DARPA has been studying, are capable of adeptly maneuvering at these rapid speeds, but for drones to do so it will require the development of new autonomous flight mechanisms.
How would they be useful?
Military tactical units and first responders frequently have to contend with complex and dangerous urban environments where this sort of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) could provide lots of advantages.
Currently, teams have to rely on remotely piloted UAVs to perform tasks like providing a bird’s-eye view of a situation and to spot threats that could not be seen from the ground.
Flying UAVs high above the scene looking down provides useful, yet limited information.