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Calling the Avengers! DARPA Wants ‘Aircraft Carriers in the Sky’

A government agency wants to build flying aircraft carriers. No, it's not S.H.I.E.L.D., it's DARPA, the same defense research agency that is funding "Karate Kid"-capable robots. DARPA has put out a call for people who could help them build something to "carry, launch and recover" drones in the air. "We want to find ways to make smaller aircraft more effective, and one promising idea is enabling existing large aircraft, with minimal modification, to become ‘aircraft carriers in the sky’,” Dan Patt, DARPA program manager, said in a statement. While it's fun to imagine the Helicarrier from "The Avengers," this would be something smaller, like a tweaked C-130 transport plane. The main challenge is developing technology that would allow drones to take off and land on a moving aircraft — all for a reasonable cost, of course. Just in case your name is Tony Stark, submissions for ideas are due right around Thanksgiving.

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— Keith Wagstaff