DARPA’s REMA: Autonomy for Commercial Drones

Abstract representation of futuristic autonomous drones with blue accents in a cinematic and minimalist style, symbolizing advanced technology and serene innovation.

Revolutionizing Drone Missions with Independent Operation

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has unveiled the Rapid Experimental Missionized Autonomy (REMA) program, marking a significant advancement in commercial drone technology. This initiative aims to enable drones to autonomously continue their predefined missions when disconnected from the operator. By leveraging REMA, commercial drones will gain new autonomy capabilities, boosting their efficiency and resilience, particularly in military applications.

“REMA is focused on creating autonomous solutions to maximize effectiveness of stock commercial and small military drones on the battlefield,” stated Dr. Lael Rudd, the REMA program manager. This underscores the program’s dedication to fostering innovative solutions and swiftly transitioning them to practical applications.

Rapid Progress and Collaboration

REMA stands out for its quick transition from concept to contract, achieved in just 70 business days. The program emphasizes collaboration, involving five main performers who are working together to create universal solutions that meet program objectives. This synergistic approach is designed to fast-track the development of autonomous drone technologies.

DARPA's REMA program logo featuring drones and the motto 'Beyond the Operator', symbolizing the advancement in drone autonomy.
Source DARPA

Battling Electromagnetic Countermeasures

One of REMA’s key goals is to equip drones to counteract electromagnetic disruptions from adversaries, which can sever connections with operators and compromise missions. The program aims to enhance the operational integrity of drones, ensuring they can complete missions autonomously and effectively.

Innovative Autonomy Adapter and Software

REMA is focusing on two primary technical areas: developing a drone-autonomy adapter interface and creating mission-specific autonomy software. This will enable drones to identify the drone type automatically and apply the necessary autonomy features to enhance mission capabilities.

Industry-Leading Partnerships

Notable companies such as Anduril, RTX, Leidos, Northrop Grumman, and SoarTech have been awarded contracts to develop the essential components of REMA. These partnerships are pivotal in pushing the boundaries of what commercial drones can achieve in terms of autonomy and functionality.

Spiral Challenge and Future Outlook

The program has initiated a development cycle called the “spiral challenge” to continuously introduce and refine autonomy features. The first spiral challenge commenced in December 2023, with the goal of showcasing a fully functional autonomy solution by March 2024, demonstrating REMA’s commitment to rapid innovation.


The REMA program by DARPA represents a pivotal step forward in the evolution of commercial drone technology, particularly for military applications. By fostering collaboration among leading technology firms and accelerating the development process, REMA sets a new standard for autonomous drone capabilities. As the program progresses, it promises to enhance the adaptability and effectiveness of drones on the battlefield, shaping the future of unmanned aerial operations.


More Aerospace


More Agriculture


More Automotive


More Energy


More Technology


More Environmental