New DIU solicitation seeks cheap, portable drones for Army reconnaissance

Interested entities have until Nov. 18 to answer DIU's call for submissions.

Got a concept for an inexpensive drone with vertical take-off and landing capabilities that could provide short-range reconnaissance capabilities to the Army? The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU, previously DIUx) wants to hear from you.

The Silicon Valley-based group posted a new Commercial Solutions Opening this week, calling on interested entities to submit a solution briefing detailing their product or product concept.

Through DIU’s unique CSO process, companies that successfully impress the group with their solution brief, pitch and proposal will be given an Other Transaction Agreement (OTA) contract to develop a prototype. Companies that successfully pass this stage may be granted another OTA for production. “Performance throughout the prototype OTA to include the operational evaluation will serve to inform which system(s) are awarded a follow-on production OTA for wider fielding,” the CSO reads.

The Army specifically seeks drones that have a 30-minute flight time capability, three-kilometer range and can operate in winds of 15 knots or greater. Assembly of the unmanned aircraft should take one person just two minutes. And the whole system should cost less than $6,000 — $2,000 or less for each of the airframe, thermal sensor and radio components.


DIU is accepting submissions through Nov. 18.

According to DIU’s 2017 annual report, the group has initiated 61 prototype projects since launching its first CSO in 2016. These generally focus in DIU’s five main areas of interest — artificial intelligence, autonomy, human systems, information technology and space.

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