The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) will begin accepting proposals for its fourth swarm sprint in its OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) program, according to an April 1 news release.

OFFSET has swarms of 250 autonomous collaborative systems – including drones and robots – that deploy small units in urban settings, where tall buildings, tight spaces, and limited sight tend to constrain key communications, sensing, maneuvering, and autonomous operations. These units can navigate either in the air or on land.

“With OFFSET, we are expanding the tactics available to warfighters, leveraging advances in autonomous systems to address complex challenges in urban environment,” DARPA Tactical Technology Office Program Manager Timothy Chung said.

This will be DARPA’s fourth of five swarm sprints. Each sprint emphasizes one of OFFSET’s key areas: swarm tactics, swarm autonomy, human-swarm teaming, virtual environment, and physical testbed.

The fourth sprint will more specifically cover two areas of the virtual environment component, first in virtual environment synthetic technology development and second in the identification of artificial intelligence applications to discover and learn new swarm tactics.

“We’re interested in concepts and synthetic technologies relevant to swarm operations conducted in any of the mission phases of relevance to urban operations, such as isolating an urban objective, securing a foothold, or seizing urban terrain,” Chung said. “We’re looking for clearly defined virtual models to include component elements such as 3D graphical objects or physics-based center models.”

Innovators can submit proposals for one or both of the topic areas for the fourth sprint. Proposals are due May 1.

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