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  • 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
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    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
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    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.

    2013/12/30 The Top 10 Most Popular DARPA Stories of 2013
    Top 10 Most Popular DARPA Stories of 2013 

    The DARPA website receives millions of visits each year. In 2013, we shared information about new efforts and announced milestones reached in our existing programs. A full list of web features may be found at http://go.usa.gov/ZRdB. Here is a look back at the most popular—based on webpage views.

    2013/12/26 After Impressive Demonstrations of Robot Skill, DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials Conclude
    On December 20-21, 2013, 16 teams were the main attraction at the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) Trials, where they demonstrated their prototype robots’ ability to perform a number of critical real-world disaster-response skills. DARPA constructed eight tasks at the Homestead Speedway in Homestead, Fla., to simulate what a robot might have to do to safely enter and effectively work inside a disaster zone, while its operator would remain out of harm’s way. 

    On December 20-21, 2013, 16 teams were the main attraction at the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) Trials, where they demonstrated their prototype robots’ ability to perform a number of critical real-world disaster-response skills. DARPA constructed eight tasks at the Homestead Speedway in Homestead, Fla., to simulate what a robot might have to do to safely enter and effectively work inside a disaster zone, while its operator would remain out of harm’s way.

    2013/12/21 DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials Get Off to a Positive Start
    Ian, an Atlas robot with the IHMC Robotics team, makes its way across uneven debris during the DARPA Robotics Trials. The robot found its own path across increasingly difficult terrain and earned cheers from hundreds of spectators when it crossed the finish line 

    “Ladies and gentlemen, start your robots!” Those words echoed over Homestead-Miami Speedway as the sun rose over the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) Trials, which commenced yesterday in Homestead, Fla. The two-day competition has drawn teams from around the world with a common goal: speeding development of robots that could aid in response efforts after future natural and man-made disasters. The opening of the event drew thousands of spectators eager to see the robots in action and witness a new day dawning for disaster-response robotics.

    2013/12/21 DRC Trials 2013: Transforming a NASCAR Racetrack into a (Simulated) Disaster Area
    To prepare for the DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials, nearly 250 DARPA staff members worked day and night for a week. They unloaded trailers full of wood panels, valves, doors, stairs and even rubble to create the task apparatuses from scratch. 

    Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla., prepared this past week for a competition unlike any it has ever seen: the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) Trials. Instead of dozens of state-of-the-art cars racing and maneuvering at blazing speeds and covering hundreds of miles, the DRC Trials puts slow prototype robots through a series of simple tasks such as opening doors or walking a short distance. The two-day event, which started today, aims to speed development of robots that could perform a number of critical real-world emergency-response tasks after future natural and man-made disasters.

    2013/12/19 DRC Trials 2013 Countdown: Meet the Teams
    The teams participating in the DRC Trials hail from around the world. 

    They walk, crawl and roll. They take inspiration from humans and animals, and come in sizes tall and small, skinny and wide. They represent five countries around the world. They are the robots of the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) Trials, and they and their human operators have all been practicing very, very hard.

    2013/12/19 DRC Trials 2013 Countdown: Anatomy of a Disaster-Response Robot
    The robotics field currently produces task-specific robots that carry out preprogrammed functions very precisely in controlled environments (red image) or operate remotely via step-by-step instructions (yellow image). The DARPA Robotics Challenge aims to develop robots (green image) that can operate in environments designed for humans, use human tools—from screwdrivers to cars—they find in those environments, and perform useful tasks under the control of non-robotics experts with only minimal training. Achieving these goals would pave the way toward future robots that could assist human-led response to future emergencies. 

    The Atlas robot is an example of one of many innovative prototypes of disaster-response robots scheduled to compete in the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) Trials that are taking place December 20-21 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla.

    2013/12/17 Theorists Predict New State of Quantum Matter May Have Big Impact on Electronics
     SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory image. This image depicts the flow of electricity along the outside edges of a new topological insulator, stanene. Theorists in DARPA’s Mesodynamic Architectures (Meso) program predict stanene would have perfect energy propagation properties at room temperature. 

    Constantly losing energy is something we deal with in everything we do. If you stop pedaling a bike, it gradually slows; if you let off the gas, your car also slows. As these vehicles move, they also generate heat from friction. Electronics encounter a similar effect as groups of electrons carry information from one point to another. As electrons move, they dissipate heat, reducing the distance a signal can travel. DARPA-sponsored researchers under the Mesodynamic Architectures (Meso) program, however, may have found a potential way around this fundamental problem.

    2013/12/16 DRC Trials 2013 Countdown: A Look at the Competition Course
    The DRC Trials consist of eight tasks designed to test the robots’ ability to perform a number of critical disaster-response skills. DARPA based the course on tasks that, if sufficiently advanced robots had been on hand to perform them, might have averted the Fukushima nuclear meltdown in March 2011. 

    The DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) Trials—taking place December 20-21 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla.—aim to speed development of robots that could aid in response efforts after future natural and man-made disasters. The teams competing at the DRC Trials will direct their prototype robots to accomplish eight tasks, each designed to test the robots’ ability to perform a number of critical real-world disaster-response skills. Through the tasks, DARPA seeks to determine the robots’ ability to act semi-autonomously, instead of through tele-operation, by deliberately varying communications speeds between the robots and their operators.

    2013/12/12 Radio Gateway Connects U.S. and Allied Troops to a Common Mobile Network
    MAINGATE_144_144 

    Multinational forces, U.S. government agencies and U.S. troops operating together in forward-deployed locations generally have problems communicating—and not just due to language differences. Technical incompatibility between communications systems can hinder information sharing and timely command and control decisions. DARPA’s Mobile Ad hoc Interoperability Network Gateway (MAINGATE) program is helping overcome this technology barrier. The program is nearing completion and plans to transfer the latest version of the system to Army warfighters still engaged in Afghanistan, but who are now focused more on Force Protection as U.S. forces draw down. The MAINGATE system is providing insights into tactical networking of the future, where systems will need more adaptability and capability. The system is packaged in a way that provides real-world capabilities like no other existing system.

    2013/12/06 SST Australia: Signed, Sealed and Ready for Delivery
    DARPA’s Space Surveillance Telescope (SST) will move from the mountains of New Mexico to Western Australia (above), under a recent Memorandum of Understanding between the United States and Australia. From the SST’s new home, its Australian operators the SST will feed the information the system captures to the Space Surveillance Network (SSN), a U.S. Air Force program charged with cataloguing and observing space objects to identify potential near-term collisions with space assets. The telescope will also keep providing deep space surveillance data for small asteroid detection to NASA and the scientific community. 

    As satellites become more common, they face growing risk of colliding with space debris and even each other. The U.S. Department of Defense has thus made space situational awareness a top priority to maintain communication, Earth observation and other critical capabilities upon which military, civilian and commercial functions rely. Traditional telescope technology, however, has difficulty finding and tracking small objects—such as debris and satellites—across wide tracks of sky, especially at the increasingly crowded geosynchronous orbits roughly 22,000 miles above the Earth’s surface.

    2013/12/05 First Folding Space Telescope Aims to “Break the Glass Ceiling” of Traditional Designs
    Instead of using traditional glass mirrors or lenses, MOIRE seeks to diffract light with Fresnel lenses made from a lightweight membrane roughly the thickness of household plastic wrap. MOIRE would house the membranes in thin metal “petals” that would launch in a tightly packed configuration. Upon reaching its destination orbit, the satellite would then unfold the petals to create the full-size multi-lens optics. 

    The capability of orbital telescopes to see wide swaths of the earth at a time has made them indispensable for key national security responsibilities such as weather forecasting, reconnaissance and disaster response. Even as telescope design has advanced, however, one aspect has remained constant since Galileo: using glass for lenses and mirrors, also known as optics. High-resolution imagery traditionally has required large-diameter glass mirrors, which are thick, heavy, difficult to make and expensive. As the need for higher-resolution orbital imagery expands, glass mirrors are fast approaching the point where they will be too large, heavy and costly for even the largest of today’s rockets to carry to orbit.

    2013/12/04 Seventeen Teams Qualify to Participate in DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials
    Team KAIST (Daejeon, South Korea) 

    Four teams that built full robot hardware and software systems using their own funds qualified to join 13 other teams to compete in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Robotics Challenge (DRC) Trials. The event will take place Dec. 20 and 21 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla., where spectators can observe as the robots are tested on the capabilities that would enable them to provide assistance in future natural and man-made disasters.

    2013/12/04 Verigames Portal Offers the Chance to Do Serious IT Security While Playing Online
    DARPA’s Crowd Sourced Formal Verification (CSFV) program developed and launched its Verigames web portal. Verigames offers free online games to help with formal verification, which confirms the absence of certain software flaws or bugs. CSFV aims to investigate whether large numbers of non-experts can perform formal verification faster and more cost-effectively than conventional processes. 

    DARPA’s Crowd Sourced Formal Verification (CSFV) program developed and launched its Verigames web portal. Verigames offers free online games to help with formal verification, which confirms the absence of certain software flaws or bugs. CSFV aims to investigate whether large numbers of non-experts can perform formal verification faster and more cost-effectively than conventional processes.

    2013/12/03 LRASM Prototype Scores 2nd Successful Flight Test
    LRASM 

    An unmanned target ship demonstrates the effects of the second successful flight test of a Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) prototype, conducted November 12 off the coast of Southern California. The test reinforced the results of LRASM’s first successful free-flight transition test (FFTT) on August 27, which verified the prototype’s flight characteristics and assessed subsystem and sensor performance. Both tests achieved all of their objectives after the prototypes used their respective onboard sensors to detect, engage and hit the moving 260-foot target ships with inert warheads.

    2013/11/26 50 Meters of Optical Fiber Shrunk to the Size of Microchips
    Ultra-low loss, true-time delay chip developed at the University of California, Santa Barbara with four different delay lines. 

    Long coils of optical waveguides—any structure that can guide light, like conventional optical fiber—can be used to create a time delay in the transmission of light. Such photonic delays are useful in military application ranging from small navigation sensors to wideband phased array radar and communication antennas. Although optical fiber has extremely low signal loss, an advantage that enables the backbone of the global Internet, it is limited in certain photonic delay applications. Connecting fiber optics with microchip-scale photonic systems requires sensitive, labor-intensive assembly and a system with a large number of connections suffers from signal loss. DARPA-funded researchers developed new methods to integrate long coils of waveguides with low signal loss onto microchips—potentially enabling a leap ahead in size reduction and performance.

    2013/11/21 Chips meet Tubes: World’s First Terahertz Vacuum Amplifier
    The world’s first terahertz-class traveling-wave tube amplifier. Northrop Grumman image. 

    The submillimeter wave, or terahertz, part of the electromagnetic spectrum falls between the frequencies of 0.3 and 3 terahertz, between microwaves and infrared light. Historically, device physics has prevented traditional solid state electronics (microchips) from operating at the terahertz scale. Unlocking this band’s potential may benefit military applications such as high data rate communications, improved radar and unique methods of spectroscopy—imaging techniques that provide better tools for scientific research. However, access to these applications is limited due to physics.

    2013/11/19 Young Faculty Award Program Casts Its Widest Net Ever for Innovative Defense Research Proposals
    DARPA’s Young Faculty Awards program provides researchers with mentoring and networking opportunities, as well as exposure to DoD technology needs and the overall research and development process. Photo by Randy Montoya, courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories. 

    DARPA defines its research portfolio within a framework that puts the Agency’s enduring mission in the context of tomorrow’s environment for national security and technology. An integral part of this strategy includes establishing and sustaining a pipeline of talented scientists, engineers, and mathematicians who are motivated to pursue high risk, high payoff fundamental research in disciplines that are critical to maintaining the technological superiority of the U.S. military.

    2013/11/12 Pursuit of Scalable, On-Demand Blood for Transfusions Could Yield Novel Means of Therapeutics Delivery
    Red blood cells viewed with a scanning electron micrograph using false color. Courtesy of Mustafa Mir, Sam Copeland and Gabriel Popescu via the National Science Foundation. 

    Red blood cells are the most transfused blood product in battlefield trauma care. Unfortunately, they are sometimes in limited supply in a battlefield environment. DARPA created its Blood Pharming program to potentially relieve this shortage by developing an automated culture and packaging system that would yield a fresh supply of transfusable red blood cells from readily available cell sources. If the program is successful, it will eliminate the existing drawbacks of laboratory grown red blood cells, including cost, production efficiency and scalability, compared to those grown inside the human body. Pharmed blood could also offer additional benefits. These potential benefits include eliminating the risk of infections from donors, on-demand availability, avoiding the detrimental effects of storing donated blood, and circumventing the issue of matching blood types between donor and recipient.

    2013/10/25 SUBNETS Aims for Systems-Based Neurotechnology and Understanding for the Treatment of Neuropsychological Illnesses
    SUBNETS seeks new understanding of neural sub-networks. 

    Despite the best efforts of the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to protect the health of U.S. servicemembers and veterans, the effects of neuropsychological illness brought on by war, traumatic injuries and other experiences are not always easily treated. While current approaches can often help to alleviate the worst effects of these illnesses, they are imprecise and not universally effective. Demand for new therapies is high as mental disorders are the leading cause of hospital bed days and the second leading cause of medical encounters for active duty servicemembers.1 Among veterans, ten percent of those receiving treatment from the Veterans’ Health Administration are provided mental health care or substance abuse counseling.

    2013/10/23 Tiny Sensors Put the Squeeze on Light
    ORCHID 

    Microelectromechanical systems, known as MEMS, are ubiquitous in modern military systems such as gyroscopes for navigation, tiny microphones for lightweight radios, and medical biosensors for assessing the wounded. Such applications benefit from the portability, low power, and low cost of MEMS devices. Although the use of MEMS sensors is now commonplace, they still operate many orders of magnitude below their theoretical performance limits. This is due to two obstacles: thermal fluctuations and random quantum fluctuations, a barrier known as the standard quantum limit.

    2013/10/22 DARPA Announces Cyber Grand Challenge
    Cyber Grand Challenge 

    What if computers had a “check engine” light that could indicate new, novel security problems? What if computers could go one step further and heal security problems before they happen?



     

    2013/09/23 DARPA Young Faculty Engage with Next Generation of Army Tech Users
    YFA recipient Dirk Englund mans the cockpit of an OH-58D Kiowa helicopter.  

    Recipients of the DARPA Young Faculty Award (YFA) visited the United States Military Academy at West Point during its first Branch Week, September 10-15, 2013. The event brought “several hundred tons of military equipment, vehicles and weapons for the academy’s spin on a college career fair,” according to a West Point news article. 


    2013/09/19 Spectrum Challenge Preliminary Event Showcases Robust Radio Techniques
    Spectrum Challenge Preliminary Event Showcases Robust Radio Techniques 

    Radios are used for a wide range of tasks, from the most mundane to the most critical of communications, from garage door openers to first responders to military operations. Wireless devices often inadvertently interfere with and disrupt radio communications, and in battlefield environments adversaries may intentionally jam friendly communications. To stimulate the development of radio techniques that can overcome these impediments, DARPA launched its Spectrum Challenge—a competitive demonstration of robust radio technologies that seek to communicate reliably in congested and contested electromagnetic environments without direct coordination or spectrum preplanning.

    2013/09/19 AAAI Honors DARPA PM Bonnie Dorr for “Significant Contributions”
    Bonnie Dorr (left), program manager in DARPA’s Information Innovation Office (I2O), shakes hands with Henry Kautz, past president of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), upon her recent induction as an AAAI Fellow. Each year, AAAI bestows the lifetime honor of Fellow on only a handful of researchers for their exceptional leadership, research and service contributions to the field of artificial intelligence. AAAI honored Dorr for “significant contributions to natural language understanding and representation, and development of the widely recognized methods for interlingual machine translation.”  

    Bonnie Dorr (left), program manager in DARPA’s Information Innovation Office (I2O), shakes hands with Henry Kautz, past president of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), upon her recent induction as an AAAI Fellow. Each year, AAAI bestows the lifetime honor of Fellow on only a handful of researchers for their exceptional leadership, research and service contributions to the field of artificial intelligence. AAAI honored Dorr for “significant contributions to natural language understanding and representation, and development of the widely recognized methods for interlingual machine translation.”

    2013/09/17 Experimental Spaceplane Shooting for “Aircraft-Like” Operations in Orbit
    DARPA’s new Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program seeks to lower satellite launch costs by developing a reusable hypersonic unmanned vehicle with costs, operation and reliability similar to traditional aircraft. XS-1 envisions that a reusable first stage would fly to hypersonic speeds at a suborbital altitude.  At that point, one or more expendable upper stages would separate and deploy a satellite into Low Earth Orbit. The reusable hypersonic vehicle would then return to earth, land and be prepared for the next flight. 

    Commercial, civilian and military satellites provide crucial real-time information essential to providing strategic national security advantages to the United States. The current generation of satellite launch vehicles, however, is expensive to operate, often costing hundreds of millions of dollars per flight. Moreover, U.S. launch vehicles fly only a few times each year and normally require scheduling years in advance, making it extremely difficult to deploy satellites without lengthy pre-planning. Quick, affordable and routine access to space is increasingly critical for U.S. Defense Department operations.

    2013/09/06 Anti-Ship Missile Prototype Successfully Conducts First Solo Test Flight
    DARPA and the Office of Naval Research (ONR) are collaborating on the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) program, which successfully launched its first prototype on August 27. DARPA designed the free-flight transition test (FFTT) demonstration to verify the prototype’s flight characteristics and assess subsystem and sensor performance. Designed to launch from both ships and planes such as the B-1 bomber (top picture), the test vehicle detected, engaged and hit an unmanned 260-foot Mobile Ship Target (MST) with an inert warhead (bottom picture). A black circle indicates where the missile hit and punched straight through the target.  

    Adversaries’ sophisticated air defense systems can make it difficult for current air- and surface-launched anti-ship missiles to hit their targets at long range. To engage specific enemy warships from beyond the reach of counter-fire systems, warfighters may require launching multiple missiles or employing overhead targeting assets such as radar-equipped planes or Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites—resources that may not always be available. To help address these challenges, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Office of Naval Research (ONR) are collaborating on the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) program, which successfully launched its first prototype on August 27.

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