The systems are deemed secure after months of development and testing.
Come September, federal agencies will be able to purchase small but secure, Defense Innovation Unit-trusted drones via the General Services Administration Schedule from five companies that refined the commercial products collaboratively with the government.
Unmanned aircraft systems, or sUAS, from Altavian, Parrot, Skydio, Teal and Vantage Robotics will be available governmentwide on the portal—and Pentagon entities can also engage in other transaction authority production agreements to gain access, DIU revealed Thursday.
The machines’ availability blossomed out of an initial effort launched more than a year ago by DIU, backing the Army’s Short Range Reconnaissance program to produce low-cost rapidly deployable drones that Defense officials can leverage safely. In the process DIU, which diligently works to hasten the Pentagon’s adoption of commercial technology solutions, spotted the need to steer the development of reliable sUAS beyond Defense and across all agencies. In a spinoff to the original Army-focused effort, DIU launched Blue sUAS, a program mimicking SRR, but offering what the unit called “alternative ground controller and radio configurations to accommodate” a wide range of federal users. Agencies’ newly provided access to the U.S.-manufactured small drone configurations is rooted in Blue sUAS.
And though some of the initial work might have preceded moves by the Pentagon and Interior Department to ground commercial off-the-shelf drones, or those from China—over fears that they threaten national security—DIU confirmed that the now-approved products comply with the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, which prohibits the procurement or operation of China-produced unmanned aircraft systems.
“We need an alternative to Chinese-made small drones and Blue sUAS is a first step in achieving that objective,” Defense Innovation Unit Director Mike Brown said in a statement. “Working across [Defense] and the U.S. government aggregates the business opportunity for these five vendors and enhances the long-term viability of this capability for the U.S. and our allies.”