In March 2015, DARPA released Breakthrough Technologies for National Security, a biennial report summarizing the Agency’s historical mission, current and evolving focus areas and recent transitions of DARPA-developed technologies to the military Services and other sectors. The report affirms that America is in a strong strategic position today, in large part because of its longstanding technological dominance. But it also notes that a number of challenges threaten that status, including the global spread of ever more powerful and less expensive technologies and the emergence of disruptive non-nation-state actors in addition to ongoing threats from peer adversaries. The report also identifies the phenomenon of increasing pace as a central challenge and opportunity—from the need for ever-faster radio-frequency and information-processing systems that work on the scale of nanoseconds, to the need to speed up the development time of major military systems, whose timescales today extend to decades.
As detailed in the report, DARPA today is focusing its strategic investments in four main areas:
Of course, true success happens only when DARPA's technologies make significant, transformative improvements in the Nation’s security. Breakthrough Technologies for National Security highlights a number of examples of DARPA technologies that have transitioned to the military or other organizations in support of national interests. A theme common to all these examples is that many individuals and organizations—public and private—have been involved in each success. That reflects the importance not only of DARPA’s seminal investments but also of the Nation’s vibrant technology ecosystem, which builds on the Agency’s work and applies DARPA’s advances to the task of ensuring national security. More
The short tenure of DARPA technical staff (Program Managers, Deputy Program Managers, Office Directors, Deputy Office Directors, Directors and Deputy Directors), means that even though the technical staff numbers at around 120 any given year, the number of Scientists and Engineers who have done a 3-5 year turn at DARPA, is a generous and well-placed group. The majority of the DARPA alumni consider their tenure at DARPA a life-changing experience. More
Because our programs push the leading edge, they are sometimes society’s first encounter with the dilemmas associated with new technologies. We pursue these technologies because of their promise, but we understand, that in this pursuit, we might be working in areas that raise ethical, legal, security, or policy questions. More
President Obama announced the BRAIN initiative in April 2013. Today, the initiative is supported by several Federal agencies as well as dozens of technology firms, academic institutions, scientists and other key contributors to the field of neuroscience. DARPA is supporting the BRAIN initiative through a number of programs. More