Robotics Fast Track foresees cost-effective development of new capabilities by engaging cutting-edge groups and individuals who traditionally have not worked with the federal government
The past 10 years have seen an explosion of robotics advances from small businesses and individuals, thanks in part to lower manufacturing costs and the global rise of community workshops such as makerspaces and hackerspaces, which serve as incubators for rapid, low-cost collaboration and innovation. Unfortunately, the small-scale robotics community has tended to fly under the radar of traditional federal agencies and commercial technology providers, which generally rely on multi-year, multi-million-dollar contracts for technology development. This disconnect means that the U.S. government is not benefiting from some of the most cutting-edge robotics developers in the nation.
DARPA’s new Robotics Fast Track (RFT) effort seeks to help remedy this situation by enabling rapid, cost-effective development of new robotics capabilities designed to respond to, and even anticipate, quickly evolving warfighter needs. RFT will focus on the development of groundbreaking robotic hardware and software by funding clean-slate approaches as well as creative adaptations of existing resources. The goal is to achieve breakthrough capabilities in less time and at a fraction of the cost typical of government-supported robotic development processes by engaging highly agile organizations and individuals who traditionally have not worked with the U.S. government.