The United States Department of Defense announced it is offering grants to build bat-like drones that can be powered by lasers as part of its Defense Enterprise Science Initiative.

The opportunity is open to submissions through Feb. 28 as the Pentagon looks for emerging technology that can help it build “new paradigms for autonomous flight, with a focus on highly-maneuverable platforms and algorithms for flight control and decision making.”

In a Broad Agency Announcement adding detail as to what the Department of Defense is seeking through its grant, the announcement invokes bats and flying insects as inspiration for the project.

“The biological study of agile organisms such as bats and flying insects has yielded new insights into complex flight kinematics of systems with a large number of degrees of freedom, and the use of multi-functional flight surface materials,” the announcement reads.

The description goes on to note that advances in technology—including improvements in sensors and miniaturization of powerful computing processors—as well as improvements of flight control algorithms should enable the creation of an autonomous drone that would operate akin to a free-flying creature like a bat.

There’s a reason the Department of Defense is interested in the more natural design: it would provide drones with more maneuverability, allowing them to behave in ways that a standard quadcopter or fixed-wing drone cannot. They believe such movement would allow the drones to operate more effectively in stealth and improving the survival rate of the autonomous machines.

In order to achieve the flexibility required for the type of movement the drone will perform, the Department of Defense is recommending research into new types of materials that can act as a skin for the machine other than metal.

“To achieve robust, resilient, and energetically versatile agility and dexterity rivaling biological systems, robotic systems require breakthrough components featuring locally tunable material properties with embedded sensing and actuation,” the description reads.

A major challenge to developing the bat-like drones would be powering the machines. Standard drones operate in a straightforward and predictable manner and don’t require any sort of challenging power distribution; a machine that moves autonomously in a more natural way could present problems for standard power sources, limiting the amount of time the drone can remain airborne.

As a solution the Pentagon has proposed the novel solution of powering the devices with energy beams or lasers. “Wireless power transmission could augment existing technologies and enable new paradigms for warfighter operations in denied environments, unmanned or autonomous surveillance and weapons systems,” the announcement suggests. The description doesn’t provide much for guidance as to how the beam should be delivered, though it does suggest that the beams could be “transmitted either from the ground or from a high-altitude platform,” suggesting the power source could be mounted on a plane that could beam energy to a drone below it.

The ceiling for the grants available for the project is set at $6 million.