The Department of Defense is accepting proposals for commercial drones to be used as the US Army’s Short Range Reconnaissance (SSR) unmanned air vehicle.

The SRR is intended to be an inexpensive, rucksack portable, vertical take-off and landing small unmanned air vehicle that provides a platoon with quick intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance information about enemy forces nearby.

The competition is being handled by the DOD’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), with submissions accepted from 5 November until 18 November. After the submission phase, the competition will move onto an in-person pitch and flight demonstration in Boston, Massachusetts from 7 January to 18 January.

The organisation wants an unmanned air vehicle that has a maximum volume of 576in3 with total takeoff weight not exceeding 1.36kg (3lb). The UAV should be able to be assembled and disassembled in less than 2min by a single person.

AeroVironment Snipe

AeroVironment's small unmanned air vehicle, the Snipe


In the last several years, the US Army, Marine Corps and special operations forces have experimented with several small UAVs that can be carried in a soldier’s backpack, including FLIR Systems’ Black Hornet and AeroVironment’s Snipe. These short-range UAVs are mostly used to provide tactical-level video reconnaissance for squadrons, allowing soldiers to peer around a building or over a hill.

The UAV that DIU is requesting appears to have a similar intended use. The organisation is requesting that it should have a camera to take pictures with a minimum of 16 megapixel resolution, as well as the ability to record high definition full-motion video. The UAV should enable situational awareness of people and vehicles at standoff ranges of 300m and 200m.

DIU wants the UAV to have a 30min flight endurance, 1.62nm (3km) operational range, 8,000ft service ceiling and the ability to fly in 15kt winds or greater.

The desired price point for the airframe is $2,000 and $2,000 for the optical sensor package.