Army drone (U.S. Army Photo / Albert C Vogel/Dugway Proving Ground Public Affairs)

DIU issues drone contracts to support domestic suppliers

The Defense Department’s innovation arm has issued $13.4 million in small-drone support contracts under the Defense Production Act. The funds awarded through DPA Title III support the domestic small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) industry and aim to improve mission planning, analysis, drone traffic management and autonomy.

The Defense Innovation Unit used CARES Act funds to make award to five U.S. firms:

AirMap: $3.3M for product development and engineering support for integration of sUAS mission planning, post-mission analysis and unmanned traffic management software.

ModalAI: $3M to develop its next-generation U.S.-made flight controller that will enable advanced autonomy, including GPS-denied navigation and all-environment obstacle avoidance.

Skydio: $4M to improve the flight controller hardware/software and data link for its sUAS so that components can be purchased and used in government unmanned systems.

Graffiti Enterprises: $1.5M to modify its commercial data link to meet DOD requirements, including operation in restricted frequency bands, limitations in the size, weight, and power of the hardware, and software developments that improve the security and resiliency of the data link.

Obsidian Sensors: $1.6M to build a low-cost, dual-thermal sUAS camera that can be mounted onto a stabilization gimbal and then integrated and flown on small, packable, surveillance drones.

Together, the contracts are designed to help with “situational awareness, improve human-machine teaming, and provide engineering support” to better integrate drone capabilities into DOD’s programs, according to a July 10 news release announcing the contracts.

The contracts also “saved 14 jobs, created 20 new positions and will support continued advancement of capabilities providing the companies additional paths for recurring revenue,” DOD officials said.  

This article first appeared on FCW, a sibling site to GCN. 

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is senior editor for FCW and Defense Systems, covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


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