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  • 2015/01/21 Establishing the CODE for Unmanned Aircraft to Fly as Collaborative Teams
    DARPA’s Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment (CODE) program aims to develop algorithms and software that would extend the mission capabilities of existing unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) well beyond the current state of the art, with the goal of improving U.S. forces’ ability to conduct operations in denied or contested airspace. CODE would enable mixed teams of unmanned aircraft to find targets and engage them as appropriate under established rules of engagement, leverage nearby CODE-enabled systems with minimal supervision, and adapt to situations due to attrition of friendly forces or the emergence of unanticipated threats—all under the command of a single human mission supervisor. CODE envisions improvements that would help transform UAS operations from requiring multiple people to operate a single UAS to having one person able to oversee six or more unmanned vehicles simultaneously. 

    The U.S. military’s investments in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) have proven invaluable for missions from intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) to tactical strike. Most of the current systems, however, require constant control by a dedicated pilot and sensor operator as well as a large number of analysts, all via telemetry. These requirements severely limit the scalability and cost-effectiveness of UAS operations and pose operational challenges in dynamic, long-distance engagements with highly mobile targets in contested electromagnetic environments.

    2015/01/20 Upgraded Atlas Robot to Go Wireless as the Stakes Are Raised for the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals

    A total of $3.5 million in prizes will now be awarded to the top three finishers in the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC), the final event of which will be held June 5-6, 2015, at Fairplex in Pomona, Calif. The new prize structure was created in recognition of both the significant progress already demonstrated by teams toward development of human-supervised robot technology for disaster response and the increased number of teams planning to compete in the Finals, including those funded by the European Union and the governments of Japan and South Korea. Aside from the previously announced $2 million grand prize, DARPA plans to award $1 million to the runner-up and $500,000 to the third-place team. DARPA expects at least twenty teams to compete in the DRC Finals.

    2015/01/08 Minimizing Uncertainty in Designing Complex Military Systems
    DARPA’s Enabling Quantification of Uncertainty in Physical Systems (EQUiPS) program aims to develop mathematical tools and methods to efficiently quantify, propagate and manage multiple sources of uncertainty. 

    Uncertainty is sometimes unavoidable. But in the world of scientific computing and engineering, at least, what’s worse than uncertainty is being uncertain about how uncertain one is.

    2015/01/07 Developing New Materials For Energy Transduction

    Transduction involving the conversion of energy from one form into another is common in many military and space devices, such as communications antennas (radio waves to electrical signals), thermoelectric generators (heat to electricity) and electric motors (electromagnetic to kinetic energy). Research efforts to develop new transductional materials, however, have largely been limited to laboratory demonstrations and haven’t always resulted in new capabilities or significant size, weight, and power (SWAP) reduction for military devices and systems.

    2014/12/30 The Top 10 Most Popular DARPA Videos of 2014
    2014 Video logo 

    The DARPA YouTube channel receives millions of visits each year. In 2014, we shared information about new efforts and announced milestones reached in our existing programs. A full list of videos is available at http://ow.ly/G88w2. A list of the top 10 most popular DARPA web features of 2014 is available at http://go.usa.gov/e8t3.

    2014/12/29 The Top 10 Most Popular DARPA Stories of 2014
    The DARPA Website receives millions of visits each year. In 2014, we shared information about new efforts and announced milestones reached in our existing programs. DARPA appreciates all the interest and support from followers across the country and around the world and looks forward to a technologically surprising 2015. 

    The DARPA Website receives millions of visits each year. In 2014, we shared information about new efforts and announced milestones reached in our existing programs. A full list of web features is available at http://go.usa.gov/MjgB. Here is a look back at the most popular stories, based on visits.

    2014/12/23 DARPA Opens Its Toolbox to Santa
    DARPA has launched the High-speed Optimized Handling of Holiday Operations (HO HO HO) initiative to help Santa Claus and his elves more quickly and efficiently complete their various holiday duties. HO HO HO offers St. Nicholas and his helpers access to research from numerous DARPA programs, including Memex (upper left), Open Manufacturing (upper right), Micro-Technology for Precision Navigation and Timing (lower left), Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) (lower right) and Z-man (center). 

    The holiday season is an important time for military Service members and veterans to enjoy time with their families. Ensuring that the right gifts arrive for the right people on time is key to maintaining morale and force effectiveness. To do its part, DARPA has launched the High-speed Optimized Handling of Holiday Operations (HO HO HO) initiative, which is designed to help Santa Claus and his elves more quickly and efficiently complete their holiday duties.

    2014/12/22 Zoom in, Zoom out: Speedy, Agile UAVs Envisioned for Troops in Urban Missions
    DARPA’s Fast Lightweight Autonomy program aims to develop and demonstrate autonomous UAVs small enough to fit through an open window and able to fly at speeds up to 20 meters per second (45 miles per hour) through complex indoor spaces, independent of communication with outside operators or sensors and without reliance on GPS waypoints.  If successful, the algorithms developed in the program could enhance unmanned system capabilities by reducing the amount of processing power, communications, and human intervention needed for low-level tasks, such as navigation around obstacles in a cluttered environment. 

    Military teams patrolling dangerous urban environments overseas and rescue teams responding to disasters such as earthquakes or floods currently rely on remotely piloted unmanned aerial vehicles to provide a bird’s-eye view of the situation and spot threats that can’t be seen from the ground. But to know what’s going on inside an unstable building or a threatening indoor space often requires physical entry, which can put troops or civilian response teams in danger.

    2014/12/11 ElectRx Has the Nerve to Envision Revolutionary Therapies for Self-Healing

    Many chronic inflammatory diseases and mental health conditions affecting military Service members and veterans involve abnormal activity in the peripheral nervous system, which plays a key role in organ function. Monitoring and targeted regulation of peripheral nerve signals offer great promise to help patients restore and maintain their health without surgery or drugs. Current neuromodulation devices are typically used as a last resort, however, because they are relatively large (about the size of a deck of cards), require invasive surgical implantation and often produce side effects due to their lack of precision. DARPA’s Electrical Prescriptions (ElectRx) program is seeking innovative research proposals to help transform neuromodulation therapies from last resort to first choice for a wide range of diseases.

    2014/12/10 Pay Dirt: Turning Deadly Chemical Agents Into Harmless Soil
    DARPA’s Agnostic Compact Demilitarization of Chemical Agents (ACDC) program aims to develop technologies for a transportable, prototype disposal system that converts any chemical warfare agent into safe organic compounds, such as harmless soil, using minimal consumables in the process and creating no hazardous waste. The system would enable safe destruction of chemical stockpiles on site without need for transportation. 

    Destroying chemical warfare agents in bulk is a challenge for the military and international community. Current methods of eradication, such as incineration or hydrolysis, create toxic waste that requires further processing. And the logistics required to transport large stockpiles from storage to a disposal site can be risky and expensive. Additionally, different types of chemicals require different methods to make them safe, so each agent requires a specific neutralization procedure – one size doesn’t fit all. To address these challenges, DARPA has announced the Agnostic Compact Demilitarization of Chemical Agents (ACDC) program and issued a Broad Agency Announcement solicitation today

    2014/12/10 DARPA Virtual Lab Advances DoD’s Ability to Test Critical Microelectronics
    Pinpoint Analysis and Precision Repair: a) Photoemission electron microscopy (PEM) was used to isolate abnormal circuit function to a region, b) Laser Voltage Imaging was used to further isolate the abnormal functioning transistors, c) Laser Assisted Device Alteration was used in identify the failure mechanism and d) This FIB cross-section shows the area where a laser repair was used to correct the failure, enabling the performers’ to continue with research activities. 

    Under the auspices of DARPA’s Integrity and Reliability of Integrated Circuits program, researchers from the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) and Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) are collaborating in powerful new ways to determine the reliability and integrity of microchips embedded in the some of the nation’s most critical military weapon and cyber systems.

    2014/11/13 DARPA-Funded Inflatable Robotics Helps Spark Idea for Silver Screen Star

    The giant, balloon-like inflatable robot named Baymax in Disney’s Big Hero 6 has its roots in real-world research conducted by iRobot Corporation, Carnegie Mellon University and Otherlab under DARPA’s Maximum Mobility Manipulation (M3) program. The film’s co-director, Don Hall, has said he was inspired to cast Baymax as an air-filled, soft robot after he saw an inflatable robotic arm on a visit to Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute. Carnegie Mellon’s work in soft robotics has been supported by DARPA and the National Science Foundation.

    2014/11/10 Phoenix Releases POD Interface Requirements as First Step toward Vision of “FedEx® to GEO”
    DARPA’s Phoenix program has shared its Hosted POD Assembly Interface Control Document. The document provides specifications for Phoenix’s Payload Orbital Delivery (POD) system, a standardized mechanism currently in development that is intended to safely carry a wide variety of payloads to GEO aboard commercial communications satellites. PODs are designed to help take advantage of the frequency of commercial satellite launches and associated hosted payload service opportunities to enable faster and lower-cost delivery of future payloads to GEO. 

    Launches of satellites for the Department of Defense (DoD) or other government agencies often cost hundreds of millions of dollars each and require scheduling years in advance for one of the handful of available slots at the nation’s limited number of launch locations. This slow, expensive process is causing a bottleneck in placing essential space assets in orbit, especially in geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) approximately 22,000 miles (36,000 kilometers) above the Earth.

    2014/11/09 Wanted: Ideas for Transforming Planes into “Aircraft Carriers in the Sky”
    DARPA is interested in proving the feasibility and potential value of the ability to launch and recover multiple small unmanned air systems from one or more types of existing large manned aircraft. The agency has issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking technical, security and business insights to support the agency’s pursuit of future distributed airborne capabilities. 

    Military air operations typically rely on large, manned, robust aircraft, but such missions put these expensive assets—and their pilots—at risk. While small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) can reduce or eliminate such risks, they lack the speed, range and endurance of larger aircraft. These complementary traits suggest potential benefits in a blended approach—one in which larger aircraft would carry, launch and recover multiple small UAS. Such an approach could greatly extend the range of UAS operations, enhance overall safety, and cost-effectively enable groundbreaking capabilities for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and other missions.

    2014/11/06 DARPA’s EZ BAA Cuts Red Tape to Speed Funding of New Biotech Ideas

    Many businesses and academic researchers wishing to pursue cutting-edge research ideas with government support lack the resources to navigate the burdensome paperwork requirements required to win federal grants or contracts. DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office (BTO) has created a simplified proposal process to attract and fund new ideas from just those types of innovators—those operating at the intersection of biology and technology who may never have worked with the Defense Department and may otherwise have remained too daunted to try.

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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.

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