Darpa is planning on handing out a series of $600-800,000 contracts to try to teach drones to walk. And the robots the agency wants researchers to train are 6.6 pound, 10.6 inch-long "Little Dogs." During the 15-month first phase of the "Learning Locomotion" project, Darpa wants the pooches to be able to travel .6 of an inch per second, and scale obstacles about 2.5 inches tall. For Phase II, those numbers should go up to approximately 3.8 inches and 5.7 inches, respectively. That may not sound like much. Bu the drones will have to be smart enough that that can "learn 'on-the-fly' how to traverse new obstacle types," Darpa tells researchers. "Government tests will measure the ability of the performer systems to learn from experience." "Learning Locomotion" is part of a series of Darpa efforts to come with computers and robots that can think for themselves. The agency is sinking $29 million into creating a "Perceptive Assistants that Learn" -- software-based secretaries that understand their bosses' habits and can carry out their wishes automatically. Lockheed got another $6.6 million from Darpa to develop algorithms that will "enable computers to leap ahead of traditional information-processing capabilities used to perform cognitive tasks, such as deduction, reasoning, and learning," according to a company press release. A third program-- "Learning Applied to Ground Robots," aimed at smartening-up wheeled drones -- is looking for interested researchers now. There's also more than one Defense Department project involving dog-like machines. Last year, the Army doled out $2.25 million to two robotics firms to prototype a big, mechanical pooch capable of carrying ammunition, food and supplies into battle.