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  • 2014/10/28 DARPA Circuit Achieves Speeds of 1 Trillion Cycles per Second, Earns Guinness World Record
    DARPA’s Terahertz Monolithic Integrated Circuit (TMIC) is the first solid-state amplifier demonstrating gain above 1 THz (1012 GHz). This achievement, recognized by Guinness World Records, could open up new areas of research and unforeseen applications in the sub-millimeter-wave spectrum and bring unprecedented performance to circuits operating in more conventional bands. 

    Officials from Guinness World Records today recognized DARPA’s Terahertz Electronics program for creating the fastest solid-state amplifier integrated circuit ever measured. The ten-stage common-source amplifier operates at a speed of one terahertz (1012 GHz), or one trillion cycles per second—150 billion cycles faster than the existing world record of 850 gigahertz set in 2012.

    2014/10/20 Atom-width Graphene Sensors Could Provide Unprecedented Insights into Brain Structure and Function
    Conventional metal electrode technologies (top left) are opaque, obstructing views of underlying neural tissue. DARPA’s RE-NET program has developed new graphene sensors that are electrically conductive but only 4 atoms thick—hundreds of times thinner than current contacts (top middle). Their extreme thinness enables nearly all light to pass through across a wide range of wavelengths. Placed on a flexible plastic backing that conforms to the shape of tissue (bottom), the sensors are part of a proof-of-concept tool that demonstrates much smaller, transparent contacts that can measure and stimulate neural tissue using electrical and optical methods at the same time (top right). 

    Understanding the anatomical structure and function of the brain is a longstanding goal in neuroscience and a top priority of President Obama’s brain initiative. Electrical monitoring and stimulation of neuronal signaling is a mainstay technique for studying brain function, while emerging optical techniques—which use photons instead of electrons—are opening new opportunities for visualizing neural network structure and exploring brain functions. Electrical and optical techniques offer distinct and complementary advantages that, if used together, could offer profound benefits for studying the brain at high resolution. Combining these technologies is challenging, however, because conventional metal electrode technologies are too thick (>500 nm) to be transparent to light, making them incompatible with many optical approaches.

    2014/10/08 Using Light Frequencies to Sniff Out Deadly Materials from a Distance
    Molecular absorption profile superimposed on the modes of an optical frequency comb (courtesy NIST) 

    DARPA yesterday issued a solicitation for proposals responsive to its Spectral Combs from UV to THz (SCOUT) program, which seeks new capabilities for highly sensitive remote detection of multiple biological or chemical agents in liquid or gaseous forms. A proposers day is set for Oct. 15 via webcast.

    2014/10/07 GXV-T Imagines Future Armored Ground Vehicles that Could Increase Survivability through Improved Situational Awareness
    GXV-T 

    One of the key goals of DARPA's Ground X-Vehicle Technologies (GXV-T) program is improving the survivability of ground-based armored fighting vehicles through crew augmentation. Crew augmentation involves improved physical and electronically assisted situational awareness for crew and passengers. It also involves semi-autonomous driver assistance and automation of key crew functions similar to capabilities found in modern commercial airplane cockpits to reduce onboard crew and training requirements.

    2014/09/30 DARPA Technology Identifies Counterfeit Microelectronics
    An Advanced Scanning Optical Microscope (ASOM) at the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Crane inspects integrated circuitry components for evidence of tampering and counterfeiting. 

    Advanced software and equipment to aid in the fight against counterfeit microelectronics in U.S. weapons and cybersecurity systems has been transitioned to military partners under DARPA’s Integrity and Reliability of Integrated Circuits (IRIS) program. Researchers with SRI International, an IRIS performer, announced today they have provided Advanced Scanning Optical Microscope (ASOM) technology to the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) in Crane, Indiana, where it will join an arsenal of laboratory equipment used to ensure the integrity of microelectronics.

    2014/09/24 Neutron Vision: Going Beyond X-Rays for Advanced Imaging in the Field
    Pictured above is an example of neutron imaging provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) with the following explanation (click high-resolution link to see full image): A digital camera took an overhead picture of the open cask (left) and a neutron imaging system photographed the lilies through the lead walls of the cask (right). This image demonstrates the power of neutrons to easily pass through otherwise impenetrable materials, such as the lead cask, and yet have enough sensitivity to reveal fine details such as the leaf veins of the Asiatic lilies. The neutron image has been sharpened slightly to improve black-and-white contrast for viewing on the web. (NIST Photo/caption)  

    Seeking to expand the nation’s capability to detect and identify materials that are not easily visualized by conventional imaging technologies, DARPA today released an announcement inviting proposals to develop portable, next-generation imaging tools that combine the complementary benefits of X-ray and neutron radiography.

    2014/09/18 Seeing Through the Fog (and Dust and Snow) of War
    MFRF 

    Degraded visibility—which encompasses diverse environmental conditions including severe weather, dust kicked up during takeoff and landing and poor visual contrast among different parts of terrain—often puts both the safety and effectiveness of tactical helicopter operations at risk. Current sensor systems that can provide the necessary visualization through obscurants struggle with latency and are too large, heavy and power-intensive to comply with military rotary wing operations.

    2014/09/16 Lightweight, Soft Exosuit Aims to Prevent Musculoskeletal Injury in Warfighters
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    Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering is continuing development of a lightweight, soft exosuit for DARPA’s Warrior Web program, which is aimed at creating technologies that mitigate musculoskeletal injuries among warfighters while improving performance. The Wyss team is seeking to integrate component technologies developed in separate Warrior Web efforts into a prototype suit that offers expanded capabilities. DARPA plans to test the final suit in appropriate mission profiles under realistic loads to evaluate performance.

    2014/09/15 Blood-cleansing “Artificial Spleen” Technology Could Increase Survival Odds for Future Sepsis Patients
    Dialysis-Like Therapeutics (DLT) Dialysis-Like Therapeutics (DLT)  

    Sepsis—a life-threatening over-reaction by the immune system to infection—afflicts 18 million people a year worldwide and kills between 30 and 50 percent of them. Sepsis poses a significant threat to warfighters who suffer combat injuries that predispose them to infection. Antibiotics can kill sepsis-inducing microbes but their overuse is contributing to the threat of drug-resistant microbes and they don’t neutralize the toxins that some pathogens leave behind. Commercial dialysis equipment can remove toxins from the blood but is not built for routine use in theater.

    2014/09/11 New Mathematical Tools Seen as Key to Maximizing Value of Scientific Data and Accelerating Discovery
    SIMPLEX seeks to use mathematical models and tools to represent complex, diverse scientific data in a computable format to speed discovery, analysis and hypothesis generation. This diagram depicts the iterative discovery process that SIMPLEX aims to facilitate. 

    The exponential growth of diverse science data represents an unprecedented opportunity to make substantial advances in complex science and engineering, such as discovery of novel materials or drugs. However, without tools to unify principles, results, models and other kinds of data into a single computational representation, it is difficult to relate data from any one scientific problem or area to the broader body of knowledge.

    2014/09/10 DARPA Program “Grows” Lasers Directly on Silicon-Based Microchips
    Caption: Optical micrograph of III-V lasers monolithically integrated on Silicon substrates 

    DARPA’s Electronic-Photonic Heterogeneous Integration (E-PHI) program has successfully integrated billions of light-emitting dots on silicon to create an efficient silicon-based laser. The breakthrough, achieved by researchers working on the program at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), will enable the production of inexpensive and robust microsystems that exceed the performance capabilities of current technologies.

    2014/09/05 GXV-T Envisions Future Armored Ground Vehicles that Could Sprint, Dodge and Shield Their Way Out of Danger
    GXV-T 

    One of the key goals of DARPA's Ground X-Vehicle Technology (GXV-T) program is improving the survivability of ground-based armored fighting vehicles by increasing vehicle agility. Vehicle agility involves the ability to autonomously avoid incoming threats, either by rapidly moving out of the way or reconfiguring the vehicle so incoming threats have a low probability of hitting and penetrating—all without injuring the occupants in the process. This concept video illustrates three of many potential approaches: active repositioning of armor, burst acceleration and suspensions that would enable the vehicle to dodge.

    2014/09/03 Wanted: Insights to Guide Creation of Robotic Satellite-Servicing Capabilities in Geostationary Earth Orbit
    DARPA has issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking technical and business insights to support the agency’s pursuit of technologies and industry partnerships that would enable robotic servicing missions in geostationary Earth orbit (GEO). The agency is considering the possibilities of integrating DARPA-developed space robotics technologies onto commercial spacecraft to create a jointly developed GEO robotic servicer. The commercially owned-and-operated servicer would work cooperatively with client satellites to support a variety of multi-year on-orbit missions, including inspection, correction of mechanical problems and orbit adjustment. DARPA seeks to create a capability that could both maximize the utility of current space infrastructure and lead to revolutionary future capabilities. 

    An increasing number of expensive, mission-critical satellites are launched every year into geostationary Earth orbit (GEO), approximately 22,000 miles (36,000 kilometers) above the Earth. Unlike objects in low Earth orbit (LEO), such as the Hubble Space Telescope, satellites in GEO are essentially unreachable with current technology. As a result, these satellites are designed to operate without any upgrades or repairs for their entire lifespan—a methodology that demands increased size, complexity and cost. The ability to safely and cooperatively interact with satellites in GEO would immediately revolutionize military and commercial space operations alike, lowering satellite construction and deployment costs and improving satellite lifespan, resilience and reliability.

    2014/08/29 DARPA Open Catalog Expands Listings to Include Research into Biological and Fundamental Sciences
    The DARPA Open Catalog—a six-month-old public web portal that organizes and shares the results of DARPA research—has expanded its research listings to include peer-reviewed publications and other material from the agency’s Biological Technologies Office (BTO) and Defense Sciences Office (DSO). Along with that expansion, the website now offers open source software, peer-reviewed publications and other research materials from most programs in the agency’s Information Innovation Office (I2O) that have public information to share. Finally, the Defense Department (DoD) has selected the Open Catalog as one of two flagship initiatives under the DoD Open Government Plan (OGP) for 2014. 

    The DARPA Open Catalog—a six-month-old public web portal that organizes and shares the results of DARPA research—today expanded its research listings to include peer-reviewed publications and other material from the agency’s Biological Technologies Office (BTO) and Defense Sciences Office (DSO). Along with that expansion, the website now offers open source software, peer-reviewed publications and other research materials from the majority of programs in the agency’s Information Innovation Office (I2O) that have public information to share.

    2014/08/26 President Obama Highlights New DARPA Program Aimed at Developing Novel Therapies Customized to Individual Patients
    DARPA’s ElectRx program plans to develop technologies to restore and maintain healthy physiological status through monitoring and targeted regulation of signaling in peripheral nerves that control organ functions. Novel therapies based on targeted stimulation of the peripheral nervous system could promote self-healing, reduce dependence on traditional drugs and provide new treatment options for illnesses. 

    The body’s peripheral nervous system constantly monitors the status of internal organs and helps regulate biological responses to infection, injury or other imbalances. When this regulatory process goes awry due to injury or illness, peripheral nerve signals can actually exacerbate a condition, causing pain, inflammation or immune dysfunction.

    2014/08/22 Atoms to Product: Aiming to Make Nanoscale Benefits Life-sized
    DARPA’s Atoms to Product (A2P) program seeks to develop enhanced technologies for assembling atomic-scale pieces, and integrating these components into materials and systems from nanoscale up to product scale in ways that preserve and exploit distinctive nanoscale properties. 

    Many common materials exhibit different and potentially useful characteristics when fabricated at extremely small scales—that is, at dimensions near the size of atoms, or a few ten-billionths of a meter. These “atomic scale” or “nanoscale” properties include quantized electrical characteristics, glueless adhesion, rapid temperature changes, and tunable absorption and scattering that, if available in human-scale products and systems, could offer potentially revolutionary defense and commercial capabilities. Two as-yet insurmountable technical challenges, however, stand in the way: Lack of knowledge of how to retain nanoscale properties in materials at larger scales, and lack of assembly capabilities for items between nanoscale and 100 microns—slightly wider than a human hair.

    2014/08/18 New Ground X-Vehicle Technology (GXV-T) Program Aims to Break the “More Armor” Paradigm for Protection
    DARPA’s Ground X-Vehicle Technology (GXV-T) program seeks to investigate revolutionary technologies for ground-based armored fighting vehicles that would significantly improve the mobility and survivability of vehicles through means other than adding more armor. 

    For the past 100 years of mechanized warfare, protection for ground-based armored fighting vehicles and their occupants has boiled down almost exclusively to a simple equation: More armor equals more protection. Weapons’ ability to penetrate armor, however, has advanced faster than armor’s ability to withstand penetration. As a result, achieving even incremental improvements in crew survivability has required significant increases in vehicle mass and cost.

    2014/08/15 CHIKV Challenge Asks Teams to Forecast the Spread of Infectious Disease
    CHIKV Challenge 

    The Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is on the move. Spread among humans by mosquitoes, and spread across geographic boundaries by humans who travel, the virus—which causes a debilitating illness—is now expanding through the Western Hemisphere. Governments and health organizations could take proactive steps to limit its spread if they had accurate forecasts of where and when it would appear. DARPA’s CHIKV Challenge asks teams to create models to deliver such forecasts for all of the countries and territories in the Americas and the Caribbean over a six-month period starting in September 2014. The winning team will take home $150,000, with additional cash prizes for runners-up. Full details, rules, and registration instructions for the Challenge are available at: http://www.innocentive.com/DARPAChikvChallenge.

    2014/08/07 SyNAPSE Program Develops Advanced Brain-Inspired Chip
    A circuit board shows 16 of the new brain-inspired chips in a 4 X 4 array along with interface hardware. The board is being used to rapidly analyze high-resolutions images.  Courtesy: IBM 

    DARPA-funded researchers have developed one of the world’s largest and most complex computer chips ever produced—one whose architecture is inspired by the neuronal structure of the brain and requires only a fraction of the electrical power of conventional chips.

    2014/07/29 Building the Foundation for Future Synthetic Biology Applications with BRICS
    DARPA’s Biological Robustness in Complex Settings (BRICS) program seeks to develop the fundamental understanding and component technologies needed to increase the biological robustness and stability of engineered organisms while maintaining or enhancing the safe use of those organisms in complex biological environments. The goal is to create the technical foundation for future engineered biological systems to achieve greater biomedical, industrial and strategic potential. 

    The development of increasingly sophisticated techniques and tools to sequence, synthesize and manipulate genetic material has led to the rapidly maturing discipline of synthetic biology. To date, work in synthetic biology has focused primarily on manipulating individual species of domesticated organisms to perform specific tasks, such as producing medicines or fuels. These species tend to be both relatively fragile (requiring precise environmental conditions to survive) and relatively unstable (subject to losing their engineered advantages through genetic attrition or recombination). The costs of maintaining required environmental controls and detecting and compensating for genetic alterations are substantial and severely limit the widespread application of synthetic biology to U.S. national security missions.

    2014/07/24 Beyond GPS: 5 Next-Generation Technologies for Positioning, Navigation & Timing (PNT)
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    It is difficult to imagine the modern world without the Global Positioning System (GPS), which provides real-time positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) data for countless military and civilian uses. Thanks in part to early investments that DARPA made to miniaturize GPS technology, GPS today is ubiquitous. It’s in cars, boats, planes, trains, smartphones and wristwatches, and has enabled advances as wide-ranging as driverless cars, precision munitions, and automated supply chain management.

    2014/07/15 Work Commences on Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) Designs
    DARPA created its Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program to create a new paradigm for more routine, responsive and affordable space operations. The agency has taken its first major step toward that goal by awarding prime contracts for Phase 1 of XS-1 to three companies: The Boeing Company, Masten Space Systems and Northrop Grumman Corporation. 

    DARPA created its Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program to create a new paradigm for more routine, responsive and affordable space operations. The agency has taken its first major step toward that goal by awarding prime contracts for Phase 1 of XS-1 to three companies: The Boeing Company, Masten Space Systems and Northrop Grumman Corporation.

    2014/07/10 EXACTO Demonstrates First-Ever Guided .50-Caliber Bullets
    Exacto 

    DARPA’s Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance (EXACTO) program recently conducted the first successful live-fire tests demonstrating in-flight guidance of .50-caliber bullets. This video shows EXACTO rounds maneuvering in flight to hit targets that are offset from where the sniper rifle is aimed. EXACTO’s specially designed ammunition and real-time optical guidance system help track and direct projectiles to their targets by compensating for weather, wind, target movement and other factors that could impede successful hits.

    2014/07/10 On a Fast Track: DARPA Plans to Speed Process for Developing New Materials
    DARPA’s Materials Development for Platforms (MDP) program seeks to develop a methodology and toolset to compress the applied material development process by at least 75 percent: from an average of 10 years or longer to just two and a half years. 

    Military platforms—such as ships, aircraft and ground vehicles—rely on advanced materials to make them lighter, stronger and more resistant to stress, heat and other harsh environmental conditions. Currently, the process for developing new materials to field in platforms frequently takes more than a decade. This lengthy process often means that developers of new military platforms are forced to rely on decades-old, mature materials because potentially more advanced materials are still being tested and aren’t ready to be implemented into platform designs.

    2014/07/09 Restoring Active Memory Program Poised to Launch
    DARPA's Restoring Active Memory program will attempt to develop implantable technology to bridge gaps in the injured brain and restore normal memory function to people with memory loss caused by injury or disease. 

    DARPA has selected two universities to initially lead the agency’s Restoring Active Memory (RAM) program, which aims to develop and test wireless, implantable “neuroprosthetics” that can help servicemembers, veterans, and others overcome memory deficits incurred as a result of traumatic brain injury (TBI) or disease.

    2014/07/08 Squad X Infrastructure Study Seeks Innovative Ways to Improve Dismounted Squads’ Tactical Advantage
    DARPA has initiated its Squad X effort, which seeks to build an integrated system of systems that would organically extend dismounted infantry squads’ shared awareness and influence. The goal is to provide overwhelming tactical superiority at the small-unit level by enabling squads to more quickly and effectively collect, synthesize and exchange data about squad members, their environment and potential threats. 

    Today's dismounted squads use many different technologies to gather and share information. In many instances, however, these valuable but disparate inputs are not well integrated, leaving squad members without the degree of real-time situational awareness and support for decision-making that warfighters typically experience while on board aircraft and ships and in vehicles.

    2014/06/30 ELASTx Stretches Potential for Future Communications Technologies with Fully Integrated All-Silicon “System on a Chip” Transmitter
    DARPA’s Efficient Linearized All-Silicon Transmitter ICs (ELASTx) program recently demonstrated an all-silicon, microchip-sized transmitter—a system on a chip (SoC)—that operates at 94 GHz. This accomplishment marks the first time a silicon-only SoC has achieved such a high frequency, which falls in the millimeter-wave range used for many military applications, such as radar, guidance systems and communications. 

    Many existing compact, high-data-rate millimeter-wave wireless communications systems use integrated circuits (ICs) made with gallium arsenide (GaAs) or gallium nitride (GaN). These circuits provide high power and efficiency in small packages but are costly to produce and difficult to integrate with silicon electronics that provide most other radio functions. Silicon ICs are less expensive to manufacture in volume than those with gallium compounds but until now have not demonstrated sufficient power output and efficiency at millimeter-wave frequencies used for communications and many other military applications, such as radar and guidance systems.

    2014/06/26 The DARPA Robotics Challenge Continues June 2015 in Southern California
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    From June 5-6, 2015, California will be the stage for the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) Finals. Teams from around the world will meet at Fairplex in Pomona to compete for the $2 million prize to be awarded to the team that best demonstrates human-supervised robot technology for disaster response.

    2014/06/19 Advanced CLARITY Method Offers Faster, Better Views of Entire Brain
    DARPA’s Neuro-FAST program has led to unprecedented insight into neural circuitry revealed through new neurotechnological toolkits. (Images courtesy of Stanford University) 

    For decades, researchers’ understanding of brain structure and function has remained fragmented due to difficulties integrating observations and insights at the levels of individual brain cells, neural circuits and systems-level information processing. Now a new research protocol promises to help overcome this barrier by allowing scientists to visualize the brain across multiple scales. As described in a newly published scientific report, DARPA-funded performers have developed a new protocol that incorporates two major technological advances that enable more efficient application of the CLARITY method to study brain tissue.

    2014/06/16 Defense Sciences Office: at the Edge of Science and National Security
    Defense Sciences Office: at the Edge of Science and National Security 

    Scientists and engineers in DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office (DSO) promote and exploit new discoveries across the frontiers of physics, chemistry, and mathematics to identify and accelerate potentially game-changing technologies for U.S. national security. After recently spinning off biological technologies into a new office, DSO’s investment portfolio, which continues to create new materials and explore the boundaries of physical phenomena, is expanding to include novel approaches to understanding, predicting, designing, and developing engineered complex systems.

    2014/06/11 DARPA-Navy Agreement to Develop Tern Concept
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    DARPA and the Office of Naval Research (ONR) recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on a joint DARPA/Navy research and development program called “Tern.” This joint effort builds upon the existing work of DARPA’s Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node program, or “TERN,” which has been exploring concepts for a long-endurance and long-range aircraft that would operate from a variety of Navy ships.

    2014/06/09 From Close Air Support to Fire Suppression
    The FLASH software supports standard firefighter and first-responder iconology for sharing real-time situational awareness updates about local conditions and the location and status of colleagues and available resources. The software incorporates Global Positioning System (GPS) data and aerial visual and thermal maps, as well as the strength of network connections among users. 

    In the heat of battle, lives can depend on being able to coordinate troop positions safely while directing aircraft to provide close air support for ground forces. DARPA’s Persistent Close Air Support (PCAS) program aims to help overcome those challenges by providing warfighters with advanced digital tools for situational awareness and targeting in place of legacy communications systems and traditional paper maps.

    2014/06/05 DARPA Z-Man Program Demonstrates Human Climbing Like Geckos
    During testing, an operator climbed 25 feet vertically on a glass surface using no climbing equipment other than a pair of hand-held, gecko-inspired paddles. The climber wore, but did not require, the use of a safety belay. Image: DARPA 

    DARPA’s Z-Man program has demonstrated the first known human climbing of a glass wall using climbing devices inspired by geckos. The historic ascent involved a 218-pound climber ascending and descending 25 feet of glass, while also carrying an additional 50-pound load in one trial, with no climbing equipment other than a pair of hand-held, gecko-inspired paddles. The novel polymer microstructure technology used in those paddles was developed for DARPA by Draper Laboratory of Cambridge, Mass.

    2014/06/03 Cyber Grand Challenge Announces 1st Group of Teams, Final Event at DEF CON
    Cyber Grand Challenge logo 

    Computer security experts from academia, industry and the larger security community have organized themselves into more than 30 teams to compete in DARPA’s Cyber Grand Challenge—a first-of-its-kind tournament designed to speed the development of automated security systems able to defend against cyberattacks as fast as they are launched. DARPA also announced today that it has reached an agreement to hold the 2016 Cyber Grand Challenge final competition in conjunction with DEF CON, one of the largest computer security conferences in the world.

    2014/05/28 Microsystems Technologies Office: Creating A New Electronics Revolution For National Defense
    Photo illustration of several MTO programs (clockwise from top left): VAPR, PIXNET, Micro-PNT, Micro-PNT, and ACT (in center). 

    Since its inception in 1992, DARPA’S Microsystems Technology Office (MTO) has helped create and prevent strategic surprise through its investments in compact microelectronic components such as microprocessors, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), and photonic devices. MTO’s revolutionary work applying these advanced capabilities in areas such as wide-band gap materials, phased array radars, high-energy lasers and infrared imaging have helped the United States establish and maintain technological superiority for more than two decades.

    2014/05/27 Journey of Discovery Starts toward Understanding and Treating Networks of the Brain
    DARPA’s SUBNETS program seeks new neurotechnology for analyzing neuronal activity across sub-networks of the brain to enable next-generation therapies tailored to individual patients. (DARPA image) 

    Work on DARPA’s Systems-Based Neurotechnology for Emerging Therapies (SUBNETS) program is set to begin with teams led by UC San Francisco (UCSF), and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). The SUBNETS program seeks to reduce the severity of neuropsychological illness in service members and veterans by developing closed-loop therapies that incorporate recording and analysis of brain activity with near-real-time neural stimulation. The program, which will use next-generation devices inspired by current Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) technology, was launched in support of President Obama’s brain initiative.

    2014/05/21 DARPA Demo Day 2014 Highlights Innovative Approaches to Preserving and Expanding U.S. Technological Superiority
    DARPA’s Information Innovation Office (I2O) today hosted DARPA Demo Day 2014 to highlight DARPA’s ongoing contributions to preserving and expanding IT superiority for national security. Taking up the entire central courtyard of the Pentagon, the all-day event showcased more than 100 demonstrations that described I2O program managers’ progress toward making game-changing advances in cybersecurity, networked warfighter systems, language translation and decision support. 

    Information technology (IT) is a key enabler for the Defense Department (DoD) and has been a focus area for DARPA since its founding in 1958. DARPA’s contributions to modern IT are well-known—perhaps most notably, DARPA is generally credited with developing and prototyping the technology for what is now known as the Internet. But while the DoD currently enjoys IT superiority, that superiority cannot be taken for granted.

    2014/05/09 From Idea to Market in Eight Years, DARPA-Funded DEKA Arm System Earns FDA Approval
    The DEKA Arm System is capable of handling objects as delicate as grapes and eggs and also manipulating power tools, such as a hand drill. 

    DARPA launched the Revolutionizing Prosthetics program with a radical goal: gain U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for an advanced electromechanical prosthetic upper limb with near-natural control that enhances independence and improves quality of life for amputees. Today, less than eight years after the effort was launched, that dream is a reality; the FDA approved the DEKA Arm System.

    2014/05/09 Study on Magnetic Compass Orientation in Birds Builds Case for Bio-Inspired Sensors
    European robin in the Tierpark Hellabrunn, Munich, Germany. Photo by Poco a poco, Creative Commons license, via Wikimedia Commons. 

    Researchers working on DARPA’s Quantum Effects in Biological Environments (QuBE) program have shown that the electromagnetic noise that permeates modern urban environments can disrupt a bird’s internal magnetic compass. The findings settle a decades-long debate into whether low-level, artificial electric and magnetic fields can affect biological processes in higher vertebrates. For DARPA, the results hint at a new class of bio-inspired sensors at the intersection of biology and quantum physics.

    2014/05/04 Service Academies Innovation Challenge Showcases Practical, Potentially Transformative Technologies
    Service Academies Innovation Challenge 

    DARPA works to ensure the technological superiority of U.S. military forces, and the agency continually seeks new sources of talent to accomplish that goal. The nation’s three military Service academies are a promising source of that talent. These institutions immerse the next generation of military leaders in a unique environment that blends academic excellence and deep understanding of current and future military needs. To better cultivate the great potential of these young officers-to-be and encourage their career-long collaboration with DARPA, the agency last week hosted the first DARPA Service Academies Innovation Challenge.

    2014/05/02 DARPA Young Faculty Award Members Get Hands-On Look at How Military Technology Supports Troops
    Curious about the 2,900 feet of underground tunnels at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center near Butlerville, Ind., Young Faculty Award recipient Walter Voit lowers himself through the trap door to investigate. 

    Preserving and expanding the technological superiority of the U.S. military requires sustaining a pipeline of talented scientists, engineers and mathematicians who pursue high-risk, high-payoff fundamental research in disciplines that address critical Department of Defense (DoD) and national security needs. DARPA’s Young Faculty Award (YFA) program supports that goal by helping promising tenure-track faculty members better understand the federal research and development process generally and Department of Defense (DoD) and national security research needs in particular.

    2014/04/24 By Restoring Sense of Touch to Amputees, HAPTIX Seeks to Overcome Physical and Psychological Effects of Upper Limb Loss
    HAPTIX 

    To understand the meaning of “proprioception,” try a simple experiment. Close your eyes and lift your right arm above your head. Then, move it down so that it’s parallel to the ground. Make a fist and release it. Move it forward, and then swing it around behind you like you’re stretching. Finally, freeze in place, open your eyes, and look. Is your arm positioned where you thought it would be?

    2014/04/22 Chip-Sized Digital Optical Synthesizer to Aim for Routine Terabit-per-second Communications
    DODOS 

    In the 1940s, researchers learned how to precisely control the frequency of microwaves, which enabled radio transmission to transition from relatively low-fidelity amplitude modulation (AM) to high-fidelity frequency modulation (FM). This accomplishment, called microwave frequency synthesis, brought about many advanced technologies now critical to the military, such as wireless communications, radar, electronic warfare, atomic sensors and precise timing. Today, optical communications employ techniques analogous to those of pre-1940 AM radio, due to the inability to control frequency precisely at optical frequencies, which are typically 1,000 times higher than microwaves. The higher frequency of light, however, offers potential for 1,000-fold increase in available bandwidth for communications and other applications.

    2014/04/18 ALIAS Seeks to Provide Portable, Flexible Advanced Autopilot Capabilities
    ALIAS envisions a tailorable, drop‐in, removable kit that would enable the addition of high levels of automation into existing aircraft to enable operation with reduced onboard crew. The program intends to leverage the considerable advances that have been made in aircraft automation systems over the past 50 years, as well as the advances made in remotely piloted aircraft automation, to help reduce pilot workload, augment mission performance and improve aircraft safety. 

    Military aircraft today have evolved over a period of decades to have ever more automated capabilities, improving mission success and safety. At the same time, these aircraft still present challenging and complex interfaces to operators, and despite demanding training regimens, operators can experience extreme workload during emergencies and other unexpected situations. Avionics and software upgrades can help, but can cost tens of millions of dollars per aircraft, which limits the rate of developing, testing and fielding new automation capabilities for those aircraft.

    2014/04/14 DARPA Tactical Technology Office (TTO) Invites Innovative Risk-Takers to Attend 2014 Office-Wide Proposers’ Day
    DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office (TTO) plans to release a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) calling for executive summaries, white papers and proposals for advanced research, development and demonstration of innovative systems. To support the BAA and familiarize potential participants with TTO’s technical objectives, DARPA has scheduled a TTO Office-Wide Proposers’ Day on Wednesday, May 7, 2014, and Thursday, May 8, 2014. 

    DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office (TTO) invests in innovative platforms, weapons, integrated systems and critical systems components that often incorporate emerging advanced technologies, all designed to preserve and extend decisive advantages for the U.S. military. Constantly evolving technologies, shifting warfighter mission requirements and limited budgets, however, mean TTO must always seek new ways to leverage innovation while fulfilling its duties.

    2014/04/07 Remote Troops Closer to Having High-Speed Wireless Networks Mounted on UAVs
    Mobile Hotspots 

    Missions in remote, forward operating locations often suffer from a lack of connectivity to tactical operation centers and access to valuable intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) data. The assets needed for long-range, high-bandwidth communications capabilities are often unavailable to lower echelons due to theater-wide mission priorities. DARPA’s Mobile Hotspots program aims to help overcome this challenge by developing a reliable, on-demand capability for establishing long-range, high-capacity reachback that is organic to tactical units. The program is building and demonstrating a scalable, mobile millimeter-wave communications backhaul network mounted on small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and providing a 1 Gb/s capacity. DARPA performers recently completed the first of three phases in which they developed and tested key technologies to be integrated into a complete system and flight tested in subsequent phases.

    2014/04/02 Phoenix Makes Strides in Orbital Robotics and Satellite Architecture Research
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    The process of designing, developing, building and deploying satellites is long and expensive. Satellites today cannot follow the terrestrial paradigm of “assemble, repair, upgrade, reuse,” and must be designed to operate without any upgrades or repairs for their entire lifespan—a methodology that drives size, complexity and ultimately cost. These challenges apply especially to the increasing number of satellites sent every year into geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO), approximately 22,000 miles above the Earth. Unlike objects in low Earth orbit (LEO), such as the Hubble Space Telescope, satellites in GEO are essentially unreachable with current technology.

    2014/04/02 Spectrum Challenge Final Event Helps Pave the Way for More Robust, Resilient and Reliable Radio Communications
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    Reliable wireless communications today requires careful allocation of specific portions of the electromagnetic spectrum to individual radio networks. While pre-allocating spectrum is effective in benign environments, radios remain vulnerable to inadvertent interference from other emitters and intentional jamming by adversaries.

    2014/04/01 DARPA Launches Biological Technologies Office
    DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office will explore the increasingly dynamic intersection of biology and the physical sciences. 

    Technology, like biology, constantly evolves. It is DARPA’s mission to stay ahead of the shifting technology curve by making critical, early investments in areas that cut across fields of research and enable revolutionary new capabilities for U.S. national security. Now DARPA is poised to give unprecedented prominence to a field of research that can no longer be considered peripheral to technology’s evolving nature. Starting today, biology takes its place among the core sciences that represent the future of defense technology.

    2014/03/26 Upward Falling Payloads Advances Deep-Sea Payload Technology
    This artist's concept shows a potential communications application of an upward falling payload. 

    Cost and complexity limit the number of ships and weapon systems the Navy can support in forward operating areas. A natural response is to offset these costs and risks with unmanned and distributed systems. But how do such systems get there in the first place?

    2014/03/21 Field of Competitors Expands for DRC Finals
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    Team SCHAFT, the highest-scoring team at the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) Trials in December 2013, has elected to switch to the self-funded Track D of the program. The team was recently acquired by Google Inc.

    2014/03/18 VTOL X-Plane Program Takes Off
    DARPA’s VTOL Experimental Plane (VTOL X-Plane) program seeks to enable radical improvements in vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) flight through innovative cross-pollination between the fixed-wing and rotary-wing worlds. In an important step toward that goal, DARPA has awarded prime contracts for Phase 1 of VTOL X-Plane to four companies: Aurora Flight Sciences, Boeing, Karem Aircraft and Sikorsky. Three of the four—Boeing (top), Karem Aircraft (middle) and Sikorsky (bottom)—provided concept images of their proposed designs. 

    DARPA’s VTOL Experimental Plane (VTOL X-Plane) program seeks to enable radical improvements in vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) flight through innovative cross-pollination between the fixed-wing and rotary-wing worlds. In an important step toward that goal, DARPA has awarded prime contracts for Phase 1 of VTOL X-Plane to four companies: Aurora Flight Sciences, Boeing, Karem Aircraft and Sikorsky. Three of the four—Boeing (top), Karem Aircraft (middle) and Sikorsky (bottom)—provided concept images of their proposed designs.

    2014/03/13 The DARPA Grand Challenge: Ten Years Later
    By the time of the 2005 Grand Challenge, teams had made substantial improvements to their technology. Five teams finished the course. 

    At the break of dawn on March 13, 2004, 15 vehicles left a starting gate in the desert outside of Barstow, Calif., to make history in the DARPA Grand Challenge, a first-of-its-kind race to foster the development of self-driving ground vehicles. The immediate goal: autonomously navigate a 142-mile course that ran across the desert to Primm, Nev. The longer-term aim was to accelerate development of the technological foundations for autonomous vehicles that could ultimately substitute for men and women in hazardous military operations, such as supply convoys.

    2014/03/06 MUSE Envisions Mining “Big Code” to Improve Software Reliability and Construction
    MUSE seeks to leverage deep program analyses and big data analytics to create a public database containing mined inferences about salient properties, behaviors and vulnerabilities of software drawn from the hundreds of billions of lines of open source code available today. The program aims to make significant advances in the way software is built, debugged, verified, maintained and understood, and to enable the automated repair of existing programs and synthesis of new ones. 

    MUSE seeks to leverage deep program analyses and big data analytics to create a public database containing mined inferences about salient properties, behaviors and vulnerabilities of software drawn from the hundreds of billions of lines of open source code available today. The program aims to make significant advances in the way software is built, debugged, verified, maintained and understood, and to enable the automated repair of existing programs and synthesis of new ones.

    2014/03/06 Excalibur Prototype Extends Reach of High-Energy Lasers
    This is an image of the optical phased array used in the Excalibur demonstration. This image is provided courtesy of Excalibur researcher Optonicus. 

    High-energy lasers (HEL) have the potential to benefit a variety of military missions, particularly as weapons or as high-bandwidth communications devices. However, the massive size, weight and power requirements (SWaP) of legacy laser systems limit their use on many military platforms. Even if SWaP limitations can be overcome, turbulence manifested as density fluctuations in the atmosphere increase laser beam size at the target, further limiting laser target irradiance and effectiveness over long distances.

    2014/03/05 President’s Budget Request for DARPA Aims to Fund Promising Ideas, Help Regain Prior Levels
    DARPA Logo 

    With an eye on the urgent need to develop breakthrough technologies for national security, the President’s requested budget of $2.915 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) would allow the agency to pursue promising new ideas and help to restore some of the reductions in the agency’s budget from prior years.

    2014/03/04 Compact, High-Power and Efficient Ultraviolet Laser for BioChem Detection
    The Joint Biological Stand-Off Detection System (JBSDS) is an example of stand-off chemical and biological threat detection. JBSDS uses LIDAR to detect aerosol clouds at a distance. DARPA’s new LUSTER program seeks to provide similar capabilities by developing compact, high-power ultraviolet lasers. 

    Raman spectroscopy uses lasers to measure molecular vibrations to quickly and accurately identify unknown substances. Ultraviolet (UV) lasers have the optimal wavelength for Raman spectroscopy at stand-off distances, but the Defense Department’s (DoD) current UV-based tactical detection systems are large and expensive and have limited functionality. A new DARPA program seeks technology that may make UV-based detection equipment more readily available in the field.

    2014/02/24 Tiny, Cheap, Foolproof: Seeking New Component to Counter Counterfeit Electronics
    Artist’s concept of SHIELD technology. 

    Used and non-authentic counterfeit electronic components are widespread throughout the defense supply chain; over the past two years alone, more than one million suspect parts have been associated with known supply chain compromises

    2014/02/21 DARPA Seeking Automated Decision Aids for Pilots and Battle Managers in Contested Environments
    Distributed Battle Management (DBM) 

    As commercial technologies become more advanced and widely available, adversaries are rapidly developing capabilities that put our forces at risk. To counter these threats, the U.S. military is developing systems-of-systems concepts in which networks of manned and unmanned platforms, weapons, sensors, and electronic warfare systems interact over robust satellite and tactical communications links. These approaches offer flexible and powerful options to the warfighter, but the complexity introduced by the increase in the number of employment alternatives creates a battle management challenge.

    2014/02/20 Big Mechanism Seeks the “Whys” Hidden in Big Data
    DARPA’s Big Mechanism program aims to leapfrog state-of-the-art big data analytics by developing automated technologies to help explain the causes and effects that drive complicated systems. 

    During the 1854 cholera epidemic in London, Dr. John Snow plotted cholera deaths on a map, and in the corner of a particularly hard-hit quadrangle of buildings was a water pump. Snow's maps, a 19th-century version of big data, suggested an association between cholera and the pump, but the germ theory of disease had not yet been invented and it took human ingenuity to realize that the pump was a causal mechanism of disease transmission.

    2014/02/11 ARES Aims to Provide More Front-line Units with Mission-tailored VTOL Capabilities
    DARPA’s Aerial Reconfigurable Embedded System (ARES) program aims to develop and demonstrate a modular transportation system built around a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) flight module operated as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The flight module would carry one of several different types of detachable mission modules, each designed for a specific purpose, such as Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) (top left), casualty evacuation (top right) and cargo resupply (top center and bottom). The program seeks to provide flexible, terrain-independent transportation that avoids ground-based threats, in turn supporting expedited, cost-effective operations and improving the likelihood of mission success. 

    DARPA’s Aerial Reconfigurable Embedded System (ARES) program aims to develop and demonstrate a modular transportation system built around a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) flight module operated as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The flight module would carry one of several different types of detachable mission modules, each designed for a specific purpose, such as Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) (top left), casualty evacuation (top right) and cargo resupply (top center and bottom). The program seeks to provide flexible, terrain-independent transportation that avoids ground-based threats, in turn supporting expedited, cost-effective operations and improving the likelihood of mission success.

    2014/02/09 Memex Aims to Create a New Paradigm for Domain-Specific Search
    Memex seeks to develop the next generation of search technologies and revolutionize the discovery, organization and presentation of search results. The Memex program gets its name and inspiration from a hypothetical device described in “As We May Think,” a 1945 article for The Atlantic Monthly written by Vannevar Bush, director of the U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD) during World War II. 

    Today's web searches use a centralized, one-size-fits-all approach that searches the Internet with the same set of tools for all queries. While that model has been wildly successful commercially, it does not work well for many government use cases. For example, it still remains a largely manual process that does not save sessions, requires nearly exact input with one-at-a-time entry, and doesn't organize or aggregate results beyond a list of links. Moreover, common search practices miss information in the deep web—the parts of the web not indexed by standard commercial search engines—and ignore shared content across pages.

    2014/02/05 After Successful Design Challenge Competition and Testing, DARPA Begins Early Transition of Adaptive Vehicle Make Technologies
    The power pack resulting from the FANG 1 Design Challenge undergoes testing. 

    In today’s rapidly evolving mission environments, warfighters need new vehicles, weapons and other systems fielded quickly. Current design and development approaches, however, are unable to deliver those systems in a timely manner. To help overcome these challenges, DARPA’s Adaptive Vehicle Make (AVM) portfolio of programs is working to develop revolutionary approaches for the design, testing and manufacturing of complex defense systems, with the goal of shortening development timelines by five times or more. Thanks to strong early test results and a new opportunity to transition the technology, DARPA has decided to speed its current AVM successes to the defense industrial base in 2014—years earlier than originally planned.

    2014/02/04 DARPA Open Catalog Makes Agency-Sponsored Software and Publications Available to All
    The DARPA Open Catalog lists DARPA-sponsored performers with one row per piece of software or publication. Each piece of software has a link to an external project page as well as a link to the code repository for the project. The software categories are listed along with a description of the project and the applicable software license. The publications section lists author(s), title, and links to peer-reviewed articles related to specific DARPA programs. 

    DARPA has invested in many programs that sponsor fundamental and applied research in areas of computer science, which have led to new advances in theory as well as practical software. The R&D community has asked about the availability of results, and now DARPA has responded by creating the DARPA Open Catalog, a place for organizing and sharing those results in the form of software, publications, data and experimental details.

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