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Federal government / Robotics / Technology

The US military wants this Philly startup to build a tiny, speedy drone

KMel Robotics, best known for its music videos, is being tapped by DARPA to build a drone for its "Fast Lightweight Autonomy" program.

One of KMel's robots. This one is a joint project between KMel and Yuneec International. (Photo courtesy of Yuneec International)

The much-heralded Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is looking for a tiny, speedy drone — and it intends for Penn alumni startup KMel Robotics to build it.

The project specs, as outlined by the government notice: the drone should be under 28 inches from end to end and be able to travel 45 mph indoors. It’s for DARPA’s “Fast Lightweight Autonomy” program.

“The program intends to develop novel representations and algorithms to enable small air platforms to fly fast (e.g., at least 20 m/s) in cluttered environments (e.g., indoors) using on-board autonomy with small size, weight, and power components,” the notice reads.

Though KMel is the only company mentioned in the notice, DARPA is open to hearing from other companies that could build something like this. That will determine if the agency will open the contract up to a competitive bid.

Based at Penn’s South Bank campus on Grays Ferry, KMel is best known for turning flying robots into musicians.

(h/t Popular Mechanics)

Companies: KMel Robotics

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