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DARPA drone competition takes off in videos

GremLion proof-of-flight video submitted for UAVForge Challenge.

A competition that aims to harness the world's most creative engineering minds for building next-generation military drones is heating up with proof-of-flight videos of the contraptions posted online.

There are plenty of quadcopters that will make kids stuck with off-the-shelf RC choppers drool. Top judging in the first round went to a Death Star-like ball on wheels called the GremLion. It's neat trick? A mid-section that pops open to reveal a pair of rotors.

The GremLion was designed by a team at the National University of Singapore and is shown off in the awesomely narrated video above.

The SwiftSight Unmanned Aerial System is controlled with a tablet computer.

However, the video most liked by viewers, as of this writing, demonstrates a tablet-controlled quadcopter called SwiftFlight. The video's production includes Hollywood-esque on-screen pop-up explanations of the action.

icarusLabs Milestone 2 UAVForge entry

Another crowd pleaser is a video describing icarusLabs's entry, a winged aircraft that hovers inside an office before taking to the skies. It buzzes a park with sustained winds of 10 miles per hour, something we know thanks to the detailed reportage.

The next phase of the competition will be live demonstration of the concepts later this month. A fly-off of the 10 top designs will be held this spring. The winner will receive a $100,000 prize, a subcontract with a manufacturer to develop the concept, and an opportunity to demonstrate it to the military. 

For more videos and information on the competition, head on over to UAVforge.net.

— via IEEE

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John Roach is a contributing writer for msnbc.com. To learn more about him, check out his website. You can also follow him on Twitter.

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