DARPA turns its sights on fast and agile UAVs

DARPA, ever busy with its mad scientist shenanigans, has turned its attention to UAVs (drones, if you will) and the possibilities they hold for quickly searching buildings that might otherwise be dangerous or difficult for military patrols to access. To make the process efficient, the latest program is drawing inspiration from various birds of prey, which can fly around at high speeds through complex areas, such as dense woods, something they demonstrate in a video using Goshawks as an example.

The newest program is called Fast Lightweight Autonomy (FLA), and DARPA is looking to utilize "a new class of algorithms" that'll give small UAVs the ability to search buildings rapidly, with speeds topping out at 45 miles per hour.

The UAVs will also need some other enhancements on top of the agility and speed due to the circumstances in which they'd be used. These FLA units would need to do the navigating on their own without an operator controlling the action, without using GPS, and without outside sensors, says the agency.

The UAV will also need to be able to recognize when it has already navigated in a room, keeping it from circling around or becoming disoriented. In the future, these UAVs could also aid in disaster relief and other similar situations, being able to fit in areas where rescue workers would otherwise be unable to explore without difficulty.