The Pentagon is conducting a competition to create drone systems inspired by the natural world and powered by lasers, Defense One reported.
The Defense Enterprise Science Initiative announced a contest Wednesday for basic science grants up to $6 million to build "new paradigms for autonomous flight, with a focus on highly-maneuverable platforms and algorithms for flight control and decision making."
But Defense One noted an accompanying announcement lays out the specifics for the contest aim: bat-like drones that can be powered with directed-energy beams.
"The biological study of agile organisms such as bats and flying insects has yielded new insights into complex flight kinematics of systems with a large number of degrees of freedom, and the use of multi-functional flight surface materials," the announcement reads.
The Air Force believes more naturalistic design — coupled with more powerful and smaller sensors to form a better picture of the outside world — should yield "significant improvements in maneuverability, survivability and stealth over traditional quadcopter or fixed wing designs."
The key is power distribution.
"Wireless power transmission could augment existing technologies and enable new paradigms for warfighter operations in denied environments, unmanned or autonomous surveillance and weapons systems," the announcement reads.
The announcement leaves it up to the contestants to decide from where the power would be beamed, but suggests it could be transmitted from a plane overhead invisibly shooting power to the bird drone, Defense One reported.
The announcement also calls for new research into next-generation airplane skins — other than metal — that sense and even transmit data from the environment, Defense One reported.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.