DARPA’s Fast Lightweight Autonomy (FLA) program recently demonstrated that a commercial quadcopter platform could achieve 20-meters-per-second flight while carrying a full load of sensors and cameras. The FLA program aims to develop and test algorithms that could reduce the amount of processing power, communications, and human intervention needed for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to accomplish low-level tasks, such as navigation around obstacles in a cluttered environment. If successful, FLA would reduce operator workload and stress and allow humans to focus on higher-level supervision of multiple formations of manned and unmanned platforms as part of a single system. Through this exploration, the program aims to develop and demonstrate the capability for small (i.e., able to fit through windows) autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles to fly at speeds up to 20 m/s with no communication to the operator and without GPS.
This testing was carried out at Joint Base Cape Cod / Otis Air National Guard Base.
For more information on the FLA program, visit: http://www.darpa.mil/program/fast-lightweight-autonomy