Grant Details

Aerial Dragnet

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    Funder Type

    Federal Government

    IT Classification

    B - Readily funds technology as part of an award


    Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)


    DARPA is soliciting innovative research proposals for persistent, wide-area surveillance of small unmanned aerial systems (UASs) in urban terrain on a city-wide scale. Proposals are solicited for a scalable network of sensors on aerial platforms performing threat-agnostic UAS detection, classification, and tracking by looking over and into complex terrain.

    Aerial Dragnet seeks to perform persistent wide-area surveillance of multiple small unmanned aerial systems (UASs) in urban terrain on a city-wide scale. Small UASs are rapidly becoming low-cost aerial platforms for hostile reconnaissance, targeting, and weapon delivery. Unlike traditional air targets, small UASs:
    1. 1) fly at low altitudes (e.g., < 400 ft) which make them easily hidden by complex terrain,
    2. move at slow speeds (e.g., < 90 kts) which make them difficult to differentiate from other movers, and
    3. are small in size (e.g., < 55 lbs.) making them difficult to sense.
    In future urban battlegrounds, U.S. forces will be placed at risk by small UAS which use buildings and naturally-occurring motion of the clutter to make surveillance impractical using current approaches. The rapid proliferation of commercial UAS with increasing endurance and payload capacity drives the need for a future urban aerial surveillance system that can detect, track, and classify many different UAS types at longer ranges in urban terrain.

    Current counter-UAS approaches either:
    1. require line-of-sight (LOS) target viewing geometries not possible in urban terrain, or
    2. exploit fragile vulnerabilities of commercial UASs obsoleted by rapid adaption.
    This program seeks to develop systems for threat-agnostic non-line-of-sight (NLOS) surveillance which exploit and adapt to the fundamental physics of the threat and the urban environment. To achieve wide-area performance, proposals are solicited for a scalable network of surveillance nodes, each consisting of sensors mounted on a persistent unmanned aerial platform that can sense over and into complex terrain. The resulting system will produce real-time situational awareness of the airspace in urban areas below altitudes covered by conventional air surveillance systems.

    History of Funding

    None is available.

    Additional Information

    In order to meet program goals, Aerial Dragnet requires the development and integration of three key system components:
    1. signal processing algorithms for NLOS detection, tracking, and classification of small UASs,
    2. sensor sub-systems using low size, weight, and power (SWaP) commodity components suitable for mounting on airborne platforms, and
    3. a networked multiplatform system for autonomously generating and disseminating a COP to ground forces in the coverage area.
    The focus will be on the use of modular, software-driven components that can be easily reconfigured and upgraded as necessary. Some components, such as electro-optical (EO) systems, gimbals, and air-to-ground data links are readily available today for small UASs. Other components, such as signal processing for NLOS detection, radar-quality radio frequency (RF) subsystems, and sensor-driven autonomous behaviors which adapt to urban environments, are not currently available. To maximize the ability for threat-agnostic surveillance in a variety of urban environments, proposers are strongly encouraged to consider combinations of multiple sensor modalities, both active and passive, together with associated algorithms.

    Proposers should describe a concept of operation for surveillance nodes which allows them to be deployed individually or as a network. In order to cover a neighborhood-sized area with a minimum number of platforms, a notional single surveillance node design would provide coverage and support dissemination of a COP to a small number of users over a 20 km2 area. Likewise, a networked city-wide configuration should provide coverage and support dissemination of the COP to a large number of units over a 180 km2 area. The logistic requirements for persistent operation of the system should be minimized so as to make it appropriate for issue to lower-echelon military units (i.e., platoon-level and above). Proposers should give specific examples of aerial platforms appropriate for hosting their sensor subsystems. Their concept of operation should address how these platforms will be used to achieve the persistence metrics defined in Section 1.2 of the programs guidance.


    Jeffery Krolik

    Jeffery Krolik
    DARPA/STO ATTN: DARPA-BAA-16-55 675 North Randolph Street
    Arlington, VA 22203
    (709) 526-6630

  • Eligibility Details

    All responsible sources capable of satisfying the Governments needs may submit a proposal that shall be considered by DARPA. Eligible applicants for this program iclude: Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs), Government Entities, and Non-U.S. Organizations. Please refer to the official program guidance for additional information and restrictions.

    Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) and Government entities (e.g., Government/National laboratories, military educational institutions, etc.) are subject to applicable direct competition limitations and cannot propose to this Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) in any capacity unless they meet the following conditions:
    1. FFRDCs must clearly demonstrate that the proposed work is not otherwise available from the private sector; and
    2. FFRDCs must provide a letter on official letterhead from their sponsoring organization citing the specific authority establishing their eligibility to propose to Government solicitations and compete with industry, and their compliance with the associated FFRDC sponsor agreements terms and conditions.
    This information is required for FFRDCs proposing to be prime contractors or subawardees. Government entities must clearly demonstrate that the work is not otherwise available from the private sector and provide written documentation citing the specific statutory authority and contractual authority, if relevant, establishing their ability to propose to Government solicitations. At the present time, DARPA does not consider 15 U.S.C. § 3710a to be sufficient legal authority to show eligibility. While 10 U.S.C.§ 2539b may be the appropriate statutory starting point for some entities, specific supporting regulatory guidance, together with evidence of agency approval, will still be required to fully establish eligibility. DARPA will consider FFRDC and Government entity eligibility submissions on a case-by-case basis; however, the burden to prove eligibility for all team members rests solely with the proposer.

    Deadline Details

    DARPA will host a Proposer Day conference on September 26, 2016 at the DARPA Conference Center, 675 North Randolph Street, Arlington, VA 22203 from 12:00 PM to 6:00 PM (EDT). The purpose of this conference is to provide information on the Aerial Dragnet program, promote additional discussion on this topic, and address questions from potential proposers. This conference is open only to registered potential proposers. Note that proposers acting as prime contractors must be able to meet the security requirements set forth in Section 4.2.1 of program guidance. Participants must register no later than September 19, 2016 at the following website: The Proposer Day will be unclassified. The Proposer Day does not constitute a formal solicitation for proposals or proposal abstracts. Attendance is voluntary and is not required to propose to any potential related Broad Agency 28 DARPA-BAA-16-55, Aerial Dragnet Announcements or potential research solicitations on this topic.

    A manditory proposal abstract must be submitted via the DARPA BAA website on or before 4:00 p.m., EST, October 11, 2016.

    The full proposal must be submitted via the DARPA BAA website on or before 4:00 p.m., EST, November 12, 2016 in order to be considered during the initial round of selections; however, proposals received after this deadline may be received and evaluated up to six months (180 days) from date of posting on FedBizOpps. Full proposals submitted after the due date specified in the BAA or due date otherwise specified by DARPA after review of proposal abstracts may be selected contingent upon the availability of funds. Proposers are warned that the likelihood of available funding is greatly reduced for proposals submitted after the initial closing date deadline.

    Award Details

    Multiple awards are anticipated. The amount of resources made available under this BAA will depend on the quality of the proposals received and the availability of funds. The Government reserves the right to select for negotiation all, some, one, or none of the proposals received in response to this solicitation, and to make awards without discussions with proposers. The Government also reserves the right to conduct discussions if it is later determined to be necessary.

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