DARPA’s Intelligent Drones…

DARPA wants Intelligent Drones to Fly on their own and Scout for Dangers…

DARPA Wants super smart drone that can hunt like a hawk

The U.S. military wants to build more drones and this time, they want to make drones that have a computerized mind of their own to fly around and scout for dangers. To put it in simple words, the drones of today have to be manned by a pilot with a remote control. The drones United States military aim to build, should be smart enough to navigate obstacles and reach the target all of its own accord. In short they want a Hawk in the sky.

Fast Lightweight Autonomy…


D.A.R.P.A. is the department of the military that has been handling the responsibility of the drone program and they made announcement in this regard recently. They made it clear, that the intelligent machine they want has to be a drone, no birds, no unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) like the one previously developed either. These type of machines are already in use and have their own limitations which they wish to overcome. 

The drone has to be able to figure out how to search an area, carry cameras, microphones and other sensors and be able to navigate indoors, with no assistance, a “labyrinth of rooms, stairways and corridors,” according to an announcement late yesterday from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).


The end goal is to take an evolutionary step in the development of unmanned vehicles, making them much more capable and useful than the current generation of fault-prone remote-controlled ones whose intelligence is in the hands of its controller.

Tough Requirements


What DARPA wants is very difficult to achieve in test conditions and almost unimaginable to accomplish in real time conditions.  They don’t need a drone that is just processing real-time sensory data, they want a machine that can read a situation, navigate through it and respond to particular stimuli – identifying flood survivors clinging to debris, for example, and signaling for help – requires something very close to a low-order artificial intelligence comparable to the birds or bugs DARPA uses as examples of what it wants, but without the self-awareness and self-determination obvious even in birds.


DARPA wants to keep the focus on the technique of flight. They did not even specify what test conditions it might be flown in, or what will be the intended use of such a machine. All systems developed to meet these requirements will however, undergo testing by DARPA itself.

Goals and Objectives

Stefanie Tompkins, director of DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office described the goals of the program in terms that were a little more down to earth, however: “By enabling unmanned systems to learn ‘muscle memory’ and perception for basic tasks like avoiding obstacles, it would relieve overload and stress on human operators so they can focus on supervising the systems and executing the larger mission,” she said in the announcement.


Tomkins, who got her Ph.D. in geology from Brown, and was deputy director of the Strategic Technology Office, was leading a team that specialized in augmenting GPS and vision systems to aid soldiers during battle when other technologies failed. Because of her body of work, experts believe that the over-the-top view of this program that would have formed in your mind, might actually be her final goal.


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