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N-ZERO Envisions “Asleep-yet-Aware” Electronics that Could Revolutionize Remote Wireless Sensors

DARPA’s new Near Zero Power RF and Sensor Operations (N-ZERO) program aims to develop wireless, event-driven sensing capabilities that would allow physical, electromagnetic and other sensors to remain dormant—effectively asleep yet aware—until an event of interest awakens them.  N-ZERO’s persistent sensing capability could increase mission life, reduce battery size and reduce the maintenance costs of unattended wireless sensors. This image illustrates how N-ZERO-equipped sensors could cut reliance on active power in various environments including critical infrastructure protection, threat detection in an urban area, forest fire detection and perimeter monitoring. The image highlights critical infrastructure in particular to show that these wireless sensors could help identify cracks and prevent further serious damage or danger. The wireless sensors could then gather the specific data and trigger a separate processor to analyze the data and take appropriate action.
State-of-the-art military sensors today rely on “active electronics” to detect vibration, light, sound or other signals. That means they constantly consume power, with much of that power and time spent processing what often turns out to be irrelevant data. This power consumption limits sensors’ useful lifetimes to a few weeks or months when operating from state-of-the-art batteries, and has slowed the development of new sensor technologies and capabilities. Moreover, the chronic need to redeploy power-depleted sensors is not only costly and time-consuming but also increases warfighter exposure to danger.  Article 
DARPA’s new Near Zero Power RF and Sensor Operations (N-ZERO) program aims to develop wireless, event-driven sensing capabilities that would allow physical, electromagnetic and other sensors to remain dormant—effectively asleep yet aware—until an event of interest awakens them.  N-ZERO’s persistent sensing capability could increase mission life, reduce battery size and reduce the maintenance costs of unattended wireless sensors. This image illustrates how N-ZERO-equipped sensors could cut reliance on active power in various environments including critical infrastructure protection, threat detection in an urban area, forest fire detection and perimeter monitoring. The image highlights critical infrastructure in particular to show that these wireless sensors could help identify cracks and prevent further serious damage or danger. The wireless sensors could then gather the specific data and trigger a separate processor to analyze the data and take appropriate action.
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DARPA Seeks to Create Software Systems That Could Last 100 Years

Artist’s concept of software system components dynamically adapting to resource changes within an operational IT ecosystem. 

As modern software systems continue inexorably to increase in complexity and capability, users have become accustomed to periodic cycles of updating and upgrading to avoid obsolescence—if at some cost in terms of frustration. In the case of the U.S. military, having access to well-functioning software systems and underlying content is critical to national security, but updates are no less problematic than among civilian users and often demand considerable time and expense. That is why today DARPA announced it will launch an ambitious four-year research project to investigate the fundamental computational and algorithmic requirements necessary for software systems and data to remain robust and functional in excess of 100 years. Article

The PCAS system includes two main components, PCAS-Air and PCAS-Ground, which connect aircraft with troops on the ground for shared situational awareness, communications, fire coordination, mapping and synchronized views of the battlefield. Shown clockwise from upper left: 1) Marine uses PCAS-Ground tablet to call for a strike and pinpoint coordinates; 2) modified MV-22 aircraft is dispatched; 3) aircraft crew calls up data on PCAS-Air tablet; 4) target is engaged. In this test, the entire process from initiation to impact took just over four minutes.

Marine Corps Leadership “Very Pleased” with 1st Successful Demonstration of DARPA’s Persistent Close Air Support (PCAS) System

Marine Corps Leadership Very Pleased with 1st Successful Demonstration of DARPA’s Persistent Close Air Support (PCAS) System 

Close air support (CAS)—delivery of airborne munitions to support ground forces—is difficult and dangerous because it requires intricate coordination between combat aircrews and dismounted ground forces (for example, joint terminal attack controllers, or JTACs). DARPA’s Persistent Close Air Support (PCAS) program focuses on technologies to enable sharing of real-time situational awareness and weapons systems data through approaches designed to work with almost any aircraft. PCAS envisions more precise, prompt and easy air-ground coordination for CAS and other missions under stressful operational conditions and seeks to minimize the risk of friendly fire and collateral damage by enabling the use of smaller munitions to hit smaller, multiple or moving targets. This capability is critically important in urban environments. Article

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New DARPA Programs Simultaneously Test Limits of Technology, Credulity

New DARPA Programs Simultaneously Test Limits of Technology, Credulity 

Less than one week after releasing Breakthrough Technologies for National Security (http://go.usa.gov/3rut4), DARPA’s latest summary of the Agency’s mission, accomplishments and funding priorities for extending its legacy of technological disruption, the Agency today announced four major new programs—evidence of DARPA’s commitment to pursuing high-risk/high-reward research and making the impossible possible. Article

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THoR Aims to Help Future Patients “Weather the Storm” of Infection

THoR Aims to Help Future Patients “Weather the Storm” of Infection 

In every population that encounters an infectious organism, a few individuals prove to be resilient—unfazed by that pathogen because they are either resistant to it (their immune systems keep the pathogen from multiplying to dangerous levels) or tolerant (they don’t get as sick as they otherwise might despite carrying high pathogen loads). Conventional disease treatments such as antibiotics have almost exclusively sought to emulate natural resistance by keeping patients’ pathogen levels as low as possible. This approach has been incredibly successful but has an increasingly serious downside: Any pathogens that survive a particular treatment can defy it from then on, giving rise to new antibiotic-resistant strains. The rising prevalence of multi-drug-resistant pathogens, as well as emerging biological threats, makes developing new medical countermeasures a national security priority. Article 

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Operating in Contested Environments

DARPA’s System of Systems (SoS) Integration Technology and Experimentation (SoSITE) program aims to develop and demonstrate concepts for maintaining air superiority through novel SoS architectures—combinations of aircraft, weapons, sensors and mission systems—that distribute air warfare capabilities across a large number of interoperable manned and unmanned platforms. The vision is to integrate new technologies and airborne systems with existing systems faster and at lower cost than near-peer adversaries can counter them. 

For decades, the United States has successfully countered the threats of competitor nations by harnessing advanced technologies to create exceedingly robust and capable military platforms. But as advanced technologies have become more readily available to adversaries on commercial markets, the Nation’s focus on ever more complex weapons systems has become not just a strength but also a weakness. Effective as they are, U.S. military systems today are often too expensive to procure in the quantities needed, and may take so long to develop that the electronic components they contain are obsolete by the time they become operational. Article

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