- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Pentagon is developing lightweight autonomous drones with the flight capabilities of small birds and insects that can zoom through tight spaces at high speeds.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) new Fast Lightweight Autonomy (FLA) program hopes to put troops in possession of drones that can fly up to 20 meters per second in tight urban environments.

“Through this exploration, the program aims to develop and demonstrate the capability for small (i.e., able to fit through windows) autonomous UAVs to fly at speeds up to 20 m/s with no communication to the operator and without GPS waypoints,” the Pentagon’s research arm for breakthrough technology says on its website.

Fox News reported Thursday that DARPA has been studying birds like the goshawk as it prepares to create an ideal drone for hostage situations and other urban operations. The website said that the drones will travel at a range of over 3,000 feet and run for about 10 minutes during missions.

Once completed, the drones would also be beneficial for responses to natural disasters, which would involve locating survivors in trapped buildings, Fox reported.

DARPA will hold a Proposers Day webcast on the program on Jan. 6 from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. EST. Companies that hope to take part in the program must submit their proposals by Feb. 5.

SEE ALSO: U.S. Navy readies ‘robo-tuna’ for stealth missions: Drone blends in with aquatic life

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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