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DARPA is seeking proposals for its third swarm sprint, which will focus on the topics of human-swarm teaming and swarm tactics, the agency announced on 12 October.

The proposals are being sought under DARPA’s OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) project, which envisions swarms of 250 collaborative autonomous systems providing critical insights to small ground military units in urban areas where vertical structures, tight spaces and limited sight lines constrain communications and mobility.

Swarm sprints allow for the incorporation of emerging technology throughout the life of the programme. Each of five core sprints focuses on one or more of the key OFFSET topic areas: swarm tactics, swarm autonomy, human-swarm teaming, virtual environment, and physical testbed. Together these topics aim to enable breakthroughs in swarm capabilities.

The first of two topic areas covered in the third sprint is human-swarm teaming, which refers to the design, development and demonstration of novel frameworks to enhance how humans interact with autonomous swarms. This topic area recognises and seeks to address the complexity of the swarm systems themselves, as well as the cognitive, physical and contextual needs of human teammates or tacticians when conducting urban operations.

The third swarm sprint also seeks to increase the collection of swarm tactics found in the OFFSET swarm tactics exchange, a repository of tools and tactics sprinters can employ. Selected swarm sprinters will design and implement additional sophisticated swarm tactics employing a heterogeneous swarm of air and ground robots and addressing the mission context of conducting an urban raid within four square city blocks over mission duration of one-to-two hours.

Swarm sprinters in either topic area, whether for human-swarm teaming or advanced swarm tactics, will integrate their technologies into one or both of the OFFSET swarm systems architectures and will have the chance to further develop and demonstrate their innovative solutions in relevant field tests to showcase breakthrough swarm capabilities in urban settings.

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