Draper and DoD Work Together on Next Generation of Small Drones

Draper and DoDMA-based engineering firm Draper[1] and DoD are working together on the next generation of small drones – developing technology to improve autonomous navigation that could rapidly move into the commercial space.

Under a three-year contract with the Department of Defense, Draper is focused on addressing the hardest parts of autonomous navigation – demonstrating how they can equip small drones to reduce collisions and develop robust new navigation methods.

“The goal is to provide soldiers with an unmanned system that can fit in a backpack and serve as eyes and ears in areas too dangerous for troops to physically enter, such as suspicious buildings or a turn in the road ahead,” says a Draper press release. “Delivering such capability requires an autonomy architecture and software package that can enable UAVs to do more than ever before.”

Autonomy is a key capability for commercial drones as well as military drones.  Ease of use – allowing small drones to avoid obstacles more easily – means that drones can be more widely used in the commercial arena, and can be used for inspection or monitoring of any complex environment: whether that’s an urban interior or the underside of a bridge.

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