With an invention history that can claim a pioneering role in the development of the internet, Siri, GPS and other world-changing inventions, the U.S. government agency known as DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has always thought big.

With its new SHRIMP program, DARPA is suddenly thinking very small indeed — and that’s really exciting.

The SHRIMP program — short for SHort-Range Independent Microrobotic Platforms — is an effort to develop new insect-scale robots for operating in environments where much larger robots may be less effective.

In the tradition of its DARPA Grand Challenges, the organization is seeking proposals for suitable robots, in this case ones that weigh less than a gram and are smaller than one cubic centimeter.

The selected micro-bots will then compete against one another in a “series of Olympic-themed competitions,” including categories like rock piling, steeplechase, vertical ascent, shot put, weightlifting and more.

“Overall, this program is seeking innovations in actuator materials, actuator mechanisms, and compact power systems to enable untethered mm-to-cm scale robotics,” Dr. Ronald Polcawich, the DARPA program manager who is leading SHRIMP, told Digital Trends.

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