The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) hopes to make it easier for troops on the ground, fighting in remote locations where airstrikes aren't readily available, to use smartphones to control unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Specifically, DARPA wants help with the Aerial Reconfigurable Embedded Systems (ARES) design concept.
"Many missions require dedicated vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) assets, but most ground units don't have their own helicopters," said Ashish Bagai, DARPA program manager, in a press statement. "ARES would make organic and versatile VTOL capability available to many more individual units. Our goal is to provide flexible, terrain-independent transportation that avoids ground-based threats, in turn supporting expedited, cost-effective operations and improving the likelihood of mission success."
The ARES is in its third and final phase, with Lockheed Martin currently taking the lead on DARPA's research.
There is increased interest in using smaller, field-deployable drones, so soldiers on the ground are able to do short-range reconnaissance - or to launch small-scale aerial assaults. Unlike civilian smartphone-controlled drones, DARPA is seeking technology able to carry up to 3,000 pounds, allowing for weapons and supply reinforcements as well.
Private sector companies and government contractors have already developed technologies for use by special forces, but ARES could be widely deployed.