The Pentagon’s advanced R&D arm wants to help drones fly the crowded skies—using a new class of algorithms.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced Dec. 23 that it is seeking an algorithm, or software “brain,” aimed at high-speed aerial navigation in cluttered environments as part of its Fast Lightweight Autonomy (FLA) program.

“Birds and flying insects maneuver easily at high speeds near obstacles,” DARPA’s solicitation notes. “The FLA program asks the question ‘How can autonomous flying robotic systems achieve similar high-speed performance?'”

DARPA envisions such a system performing reconnaissance in areas previously considered denied, such as a protected or structurally damaged building.

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