The Pentagon is looking at "swarm-enabled tactics" for light infantry fighters, according to a DARPA announcement from late last year.
DARPA, a highly secretive government agency, refused to disclose much about what use soldiers would have for the mini-drones, which could weight about as much as a can of soda, according to the Army Times.
Speaking about the program, Timothy Chung, program manager at DARPA, said he envisions the swarm drones being used for reconnaissance, identifying ingress and egress points, "or perhaps identifying novel ways to construct a perimeter of an area of operations."
DARPA plans to solicit proposals from small businesses, academic institutions and large corporations to test one of five areas: "swarm tactics, swarm autonomy, human-swarm teaming, and physical testbed," according to DARPA.
The goal of the proposals is to figure out what swarming, unmanned ground and aerial systems can actually do through experiments called "swarm sprints."
"Swarm sprints are empirical experiments designed to accelerate our understanding of what swarms can do in urban environments," Chung said in an announcement.
Vasily Kashin, an expert on China's military and a researcher at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, told the Financial Times last August that "the Chinese are prioritizing" swarming as well, as it is "considered to be one of the most promising areas of defense technology development in the world."
"The US and China are in some sort of weird swarm race," Paul Scharre, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security, told FT at the time, adding, "a swarm with 10 more individual drones isn't necessarily better. What matters are the things you can't see. It's the algorithms that govern swarm behavior."