The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Small Business Programs Office (SBPO) is issuing an SBIR/STTR Opportunity (SBO) inviting submissions of innovative research concepts in the technical domain(s) of Air Platform, Ground/Sea Vehicles. In particular, DARPA is interested in understanding the feasibility of a portable personal air mobility system. This SBO will open for proposals on March 16, 2021 and close at 12:00 p.m. ET on April 20, 2021.

According to the Program’s Topic Overview, the DARPA TTO office is interested in receiving proposals to develop and demonstrate novel or unique approaches to personal battlefield mobility for operators in a man-portable low-cost package.

This platform system or system of systems could incorporate entirely new designs, or modifications to existing systems. These platforms could serve a variety of military missions, enabling cost effective mission utility and agility in areas such as personnel logistics, urban augmented combat, CSAR, Maritime interdiction and SOF Infil/Exfil.

Systems may be air deployed to allow for Infil to hostile territory, or ground deployed to allow for greater off-road mobility without the use of existing Vertical Takeoff & Landing aircraft such as helicopters and CV-22. The platforms may be one-time use or reusable with minimal repacking/re-deployment actions such that they properly support the envisioned use cases.

Unlike the ongoing AFWERX Agility Prime program, TTO is interested in proposals for systems which are man portable/storable in 1 (or a few) man portable containers/mobility bags. When deployed, the systems allow mobility for a range of at least 5 km for a single operator, likely at low to medium altitudes. Systems should be designed such that assembly and deployment can occur in less than 10 minutes using only simple tools or no tools at all. The platforms must not require assistance from external equipment or other unique environmental factors (e.g. wind, elevation, etc.) for launch/recovery. Some examples of technologies of interest include jetpacks, powered gliders, powered wingsuits, and powered parafoils which could leverage emerging electric propulsion technologies, hydrogen fuel cells or conventional heavy fuel propulsion systems.

Of particular interest are systems which display low signature qualities inherent to their design, such as low auditory signature and low IR signature.

When deployed, the platform will be designed with simplified operations in mind, so that someone unfamiliar with the platform could be educated in its safe and effective use with relatively little training. It is anticipated that computer assisted control functions and intuitive interfaces will enable an effective operational system in addition to an overall
system design that permits fast, equipment-free set-up.