The growth of the drone market has brought with it a host of innovations such as drone delivery, drone conference calls, and even Wi-Fi delivered by drone. However, drones have also caused quite a few disasters, created security risks, and have become weaponized for military use.

In an effort to protect against the threats that small unmanned air systems (sUAS) pose to military forces, Pentagon research agency DARPA issued a Request for Information (RFI) on Thursday, asking for ideas and approaches to help improve protection. DARPA is looking for ways to defend against a variety of threats and tactics.

“DARPA is interested in identifying novel, flexible, and mobile layered defense systems and component technologies to address this increasingly important issue as well as conventional threats,” said Jean-Charles Ledé, DARPA program manager. “We’re looking for scalable, modular, and affordable approaches that could be fielded within the next three to four years and could rapidly evolve with threat and tactical advancements.”

Once the responses are received, DARPA will review them to determine their relevance to current systems, and the technology’s maturity. If DARPA is interested in a proposed solution, those who submitted it may be invited to a Mobile Force Protection workshop in Arlington, VA in September.

SEE: Drone policy template (Tech Pro Research)

Those interested in participating may submit a response to the RFI that is five pages in length, or shorter. To be considered, the response must touch on the following points:

  • Conceptual designs and performance capabilities, including substantiating preliminary performance data, if available, for the concept of operation(s)
  • Technology maturity assessment, including data to substantiate technology maturity and identification of key risk areas requiring mitigation to enable system demonstration
  • Program outline for maturing the system to the point where it would be ready for demonstration, including high-level rough order of magnitude (ROM) cost and schedule
  • System affordability assessment
  • Estimated size, weight, and power requirements
  • Ability to address other threats (any part of the targeting chain)
  • Ability to integrate third-party subsystems

According to DARPA, “private or public companies, individuals, universities, university-affiliated research centers, not-for-profit research institutions, foreign entities, and US Government-sponsored laboratories” are all welcome to submit responses. Full submittal requirements can be found here.

Unmanned aircraft have been popular in government discourse as of late, with the White House recently detailing plans for further integrating drones into the daily lives of businesses and consumers. Additionally, the US government recently approved testing for medical delivery by drone as well.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. DARPA recently issued a formal Request for Information regarding new initiatives for ways to protect military forces from small unmanned air systems (sUAS) attacks.
  2. Interested parties can submit a proposal that is under five pages, and may be invited to a major workshop in September.
  3. The US government continues its talk on drones, after recently details plans for further integration of unmanned aircraft into everyday life.