The use of chemical agents by enemy forces or terrorists poses a threat to U.S. troops and civilian populations. New countermeasures against nerve agents remain a high priority research and development focus for the Department of Defense. Human butyrylcholinesterase, a bioscavenger that binds nerve agent in the blood stream before it can affect the nervous system, has emerged as a potential new approach to reduce toxicity of chemical warfare nerve agents. A biological scavenger should have little or no behavioral or physiological side effects, which is an improvement over currently available treatments. Results of preliminary research support recombinant butyrylcholinesterase as a possible next generation of pharmaceuticals to protect warfighters against nerve agent poisoning.
Securing research funding can be a challenge for tenure-track faculty with cutting-edge ideas but few connections. Those ideas may be the breakthroughs needed to advance critical science and technologies in support of the Defense mission. For the sixth year, DARPA will invest in the next generation of rising academic stars through its Young Faculty Award (YFA) Research Announcement.
Current sensor systems, like those being developed for DARPA’s Adaptable Sensor System (ADAPT) program, are increasingly complex; they offer advances in capabilities far beyond their current use. One significant limiting factor in our ability to leverage all of these advances is the lack of sophisticated, adaptive applications. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), for example, have become indispensible intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms on today’s battlefield. How much more effective could they be if an app were created that allowed a swarm of small deployed UAVs to be controlled as a single unit (a hive so to speak) without having to individually control each vehicle?
Almost 9,000 teams registered to participate in DARPA's Shredder Challenge. Thirty-three days after the challenge was announced, one small San Francisco-based team correctly reconstructed each of the five challenge documents and solved their associated puzzles. The ‘All Your Shreds Are Belong to U.S.’ team, which won the $50,000 prize, used custom-coded, computer-vision algorithms to suggest fragment pairings to human assemblers for verification. In total, the winning team spent nearly 600 man-hours developing algorithms and piecing together documents that were shredded into more than 10,000 pieces.
Rapidly flapping wings to hover, dive, climb, or dart through an open doorway, DARPA’s remotely controlled Nano Air Vehicle relays real-time video from a tiny on-board camera back to its operator. Weighing less than a AA battery and resembling a live hummingbird, the vehicle could give war fighters an unobtrusive view of threats inside or outside a building from a safe distance. This week, TIME Magazine named the Hummingbird one of the best 50 inventions of the year, featuring it on the November 28th cover.
Military teams have gathered around mission planning sand tables for centuries, but in the future they may have a more realistic and interactive simulation tool. DARPA’s Urban Photonic Sandtable Display (UPSD) pioneers an advanced 3-D technology that creates a real-time, color, 360-degree, 3-D holographic display that could assist battle planners. TIME Magazine honored the UPSD and DARPA’s Nano Air Vehicle Hummingbird, a robotic air vehicle that looks and flies like a Hummingbird, as two of the best 50 inventions of the year.
Formal program verification is a proven method for reducing defects in software and proving that software has specified properties, but formal verification does not currently scale to the size of software found in modern weapon systems. Moreover, formal verification is currently performed by highly specialized researchers with deep knowledge of software technology and mathematical theorem-proving techniques. Because of these constraints and the resulting high costs, formal verification is not widely practiced, an issue of particular concern for the Department of Defense.
With only 13 days left in the DARPA Shredder Challenge, the final puzzle remains unsolved. With over 8,200 registered participants and 72,000 puzzle downloads, participation is high but no team has yet been able to put together the right combination of automation, collaboration and persistence to piece together the fifth shredded document.
Small, wirelessly-networked, energy efficient systems with sophisticated security policies and powerful processors are commonplace in today’s world. They are not, however, state of the art in space. Yet these same ground-based system capabilities are needed to provide the connectivity required by DARPA’s System F6 program.
Nearly 700 experts from the cyber community—half of which were new to the DARPA cyber community—joined Agency and other Defense Department cyber leaders in Arlington, Va. at DARPA’s “Colloquium on Future Directions in Cyber Security,” Monday. A general agreement by all attendees was rapidly reached; changing how we deal with defense of the nation’s cyber assets is critical to national security moving forward. “New capabilities are needed… We need more and better options.” said DARPA Director, Regina E. Dugan.
Today there’s one way to get a satellite into space: launch it from the ground on a booster rocket, which is expensive and can take weeks or months between missions to prepare the launch pad. And a change in weather can scrap the launch at the last minute.
A strong password contains capital and lowercase letters, numbers and some special characters. Done properly, the result is a password that grants access to computer systems to the proper user. The only problem is the password is hard to remember, and it’s not supposed to be written on yellow sticky notes that can sometimes be found on the bottom of keyboards. And don’t get comfortable with this long password; it has to be changed every 90 days or so.
Speaking today at DARPA’s “Colloquium on Future Directions in Cyber Security,” DARPA Director, Regina E. Dugan, reinforced that the advent of the Internet more than 40 years ago created both tremendous opportunities and risks.
Less than 5 days after the launch of the Shredder Challenge, DARPA’s competition to identify the best tools and techniques for document reconstruction, teams have reconstructed the first two shredded documents and correctly solved the puzzles. As of today, 16 teams have solved the first problem, and two teams have solved the second.
Revolutionizing the design and manufacturing process for complex defense systems requires innovation, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is looking to find new sources for that innovation. With the goal of significantly reducing the timeline and increasing the efficiency of the development and build process for complex defense systems, DARPA is pioneering new methods for correct-by-construction fab-less design and a digitally programmable foundry-like manufacturing capability to break the traditional systems engineering paradigm and replace it with one that eliminates multiple iterations of the design-build-test-redesign cycle.
Today’s troops often confiscate the remnants of destroyed documents in war zones, but reconstructing them is a daunting task. DARPA’s Shredder Challenge calls upon computer scientists, puzzle enthusiasts and anyone else who likes solving complex problems to compete for up to $50,000 by piecing together a series of shredded documents. The goal is to identify and assess potential capabilities that could be used by our warfighters operating in war zones, but might also create vulnerabilities to sensitive information that is protected through our own shredding practices throughout the U.S. national security community.
More than $300 billion worth of satellites are estimated to be in the geosynchronous orbit (GEO—22,000 miles above the earth). Many of these satellites have been retired due to normal end of useful life, obsolescence or failure; yet many still have valuable components, such as antennas, that could last much longer than the life of the satellite. When satellites in GEO “retire,” they are put into a GEO disposal or “graveyard” orbit. That graveyard potentially holds tens to more than a hundred retired satellites that have components that could be repurposed – with the willing knowledge and sanction of the satellite’s owner.
Improvements in training, body armor, and medical evacuation and care have saved lives in combat, but many of the wounds received during operations in Afghanistan and Iraq have resulted in amputations. Begun in 2006, DARPA’s Revolutionizing Prosthetics program set out to expand prosthetic arm options for today’s wounded warriors. The program funded two teams to create advanced anthropomorphic mechanical arms and control systems; one to get an arm control system to market quickly, the other to determine the viability of direct brain control.
Today’s dismounted warfighters often carry 100 pounds or more of equipment as they patrol for hours across rugged or hilly terrain. This heavy load increases the risk of musculoskeletal injury, particularly on vulnerable areas such as knees, ankles and the spine. In addition, as loads increase, fatigue and exhaustion set in faster.
"A world-class education is the single most important factor in determining not just whether our kids can compete for the best jobs but whether America can outcompete countries around the world." said President Barack Obama on July 18, 2011. But the idea of competing for the best jobs or continued global economic competitiveness does not inspire a 13 year old to study.
Recent DARPA research through the Accelerated Manufacture of Pharmaceuticals program has demonstrated the ability to accelerate production of millions of doses of vaccine using novel plant-based methods. Clinical trials, however, for vaccines, drugs or other biologics cannot be initiated without preclinical evidence of their safety in humans. Drug safety and effectiveness in humans are not always accurately predicted through animal testing. And the Department of Defense needs to rapidly develop and field safe and effective medical countermeasures against biological threats to U.S. warfighters.
When a connection to the Internet and a computer is essentially all an adversary needs to deliver a potentially devastating attack against the United States it’s time for the best minds to engage in candid dialogue that focuses research and development efforts to defend national assets.
Defense Sciences Office (DSO) programs bridge the gap from fundamental science to applications by identifying and pursuing some of the most promising ideas within the science and engineering research communities and transforming these ideas into new Department of Defense capabilities. It makes sense then that its new director would have a background steeped in engineering yet equally rooted in biological sciences and fundamental research.
Small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) provide valuable intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities for units at the infantry company level and below, allowing over-the-next-hill imagery or short-term monitoring of convoys as an example. State-of-the-art battery power for these small UASs, however, has limited the duration of missions to about two hours.
On Thursday, 11 August, DARPA demonstrated stable aerodynamically controlled Mach 20 flight for nearly 3 minutes in its attempt to attempt to fly the fastest aircraft ever flown. This feat was the result of many scientific and technological advances.
On Thursday, 11 August, the HTV-2 experienced a flight anomaly post perigee and into the vehicle’s climb. The anomaly prompted the vehicle’s autonomous flight safety system to use the craft’s aerodynamic systems to make a controlled descent and splash down into the ocean. Controlled descent is a term typically associated with a human-in-the-loop directing or guiding the unscheduled landing of an aircraft. For DARPA’s Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2) controlled descent takes on new meaning thanks to the vehicle’s safety system.
Today, DARPA attempted to fly the fastest aircraft ever built. The Agency’s Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2) is designed to fly anywhere in the world in less than 60 minutes. This capability requires an aircraft that can fly at 13,000 mph, while experiencing temperatures in excess of 3500F. The second test flight began with launch at 0745 Pacific Time.
How do you learn to fly at 13,000 miles per hour—a speed at which it would take less than 12 minutes to get from New York to Los Angeles? Or, how do you know whether a vehicle can maintain a long-duration flight while experiencing temperatures in excess of 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit—hotter than a blast furnace that can melt steel?
Warfighters have depended for decades on global positioning satellite (GPS) technology, and have incorporated it into guided munitions and other platforms to meet rigid requirements for guidance and navigation. This creates a potential challenge in instance where an intended target is equipped with high-powered jammers or if the GPS constellation is compromised.
Enemy surface-to-air threats to manned and unmanned aircraft have become increasingly sophisticated, creating a need for rapid and effective response to this growing category of threats. A potential solution for countering these threats is high-powered lasers, which can harness the speed and power of light to counter multiple threats.
A massive amount of data from video sensors is collected in theater, and there aren’t enough analysts or time available to review. Reducing the amount of data or the number of sensors isn’t the answer, and there will never be enough analysts. The solution lies in better automated capabilities that can identify areas and activities that require human analyst attention.
In 1865, Jules Verne put forward a seemingly impossible notion in From Earth to the Moon: he wrote about building a giant space gun that would rocket men to the moon. Just over a century later, the impossible became reality when Neil Armstrong took that first step onto the moon’s surface in 1969.
A century can fundamentally change our understanding of our universe and reality.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI)—frequently referred to as a signature, and often invisible, wound of current conflicts—is commonly thought to have affected more than 200,000 troops over the past decade. These injuries are typically caused by blast exposure and may vary from mild to severe.
Videos depict the DARPA Autonomous Robotic Manipulation (ARM), Blue Angel and Nano Air Vehicle (NAV) programs
Small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) play a critical role in modern military operations. The next generation of these aerial robotic systems needs to have enhanced takeoff and landing capabilities, better endurance, require less support equipment and be adaptable to mission needs in varying conditions.
The high cost of state-of-the-art robots often creates barriers to widespread research and breakthroughs in the field. Virtual robot simulators have increased the accessibility of robotics and mobility research. But few widely available platforms exist to validate simulations on actual machines. To overcome both these challenges, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), has combined virtual simulation with laboratory testing as part of its Autonomous Robotics Manipulation (ARM) program.
Many of today’s conflicts occur in urban settings, making the ability to visualize conditions in urban areas increasingly important to commanders and mission planners. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently completed a five-year program called Urban Photonic Sandtable Display (UPSD) that creates a real-time, color, 360-degree 3D holographic display to assist battle planners. Without having to wear 3D goggles or glasses, a team of planners can view a large-format, interactive 3D display. Until now, two-dimensional, high-resolution flat panel color displays and 3D static monochrome images have been the most advanced visual planning tools available.
DARPA would like to keep all of our Alumni informed of upcoming Alumni events and other news. DARPA is planning on hosting a couple of major Alumni events each year, with our next event tentatively scheduled for late spring on the west coast. Invitations to register for this event will be sent via email to our existing Alumni contacts.
Please direct all media queries to Outreach@DARPA.mil