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Robotics Challenge

Wanted: Technologies to Enable Automated Lookouts for Unmanned Surface Vessels

DARPA’s Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) seeks to develop an independently deployed unmanned surface vessel that would operate under sparse remote supervisory control and safely follow the maritime “rules of the road” for collision avoidance known as COLREGS. The hull for the ACTUV prototype is under construction in preparation for planned water-borne testing of the full prototype later this year.
DARPA’s Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) program seeks to develop a new type of unmanned surface vessel that could independently track adversaries’ ultra-quiet diesel-electric submarines over thousands of miles. One of the challenges that the ACTUV program is addressing is development of autonomous behaviors for complying with the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, known as COLREGS. Substantial progress has been made in developing and implementing those behaviors. Currently, ACTUV’s system for sensing other vessels is based on radar, which provides a “90 percent solution” for detecting other ships. However, radar is less suitable for classification of the type of other vessels, for example determining whether the vessel is a powered vessel or a sailboat. Additionally, one of the requirements of COLREGS is to maintain “a proper lookout by sight and hearing.” Article 
DARPA’s Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) seeks to develop an independently deployed unmanned surface vessel that would operate under sparse remote supervisory control and safely follow the maritime “rules of the road” for collision avoidance known as COLREGS. The hull for the ACTUV prototype is under construction in preparation for planned water-borne testing of the full prototype later this year.
DARPA Framework

DARPA Shares Its Vision for the Future

DARPA Framework 

DARPA today released Breakthrough Technologies for National Security, a biennial report summarizing the Agency’s historical mission, current and evolving focus areas and recent transitions of DARPA-developed technologies to the military Services and other sectors. The report’s release coincided with testimony by DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar before the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, at a hearing entitled “Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2016 Science and Technology Programs: Laying the Groundwork to Maintain Technological Superiority.” The full report is available at http://go.usa.gov/3rut4. Article 

Tern 144

Tern Continues Progress toward Enabling Small Ships to Host Their Own Unmanned Air Systems

Tern, a joint program between DARPA and the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR), seeks to enable forward-deployed small ships to serve as mobile launch and recovery sites for medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial systems (UAS). In an important step toward that goal, DARPA has awarded prime contracts for Phase 2 of Tern to two companies: AeroVironment, Inc. and Northrop Grumman Corp. 

DARPA has awarded prime contracts for Phase 2 of Tern, a joint program between DARPA and the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR). The goal of Tern is to give forward-deployed small ships the ability to serve as mobile launch and recovery sites for medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial systems (UAS). These systems could provide long-range intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and other capabilities over greater distances and time periods than is possible with current assets, including manned and unmanned helicopters. Further, a capacity to launch and retrieve aircraft on small ships would reduce the need for ground-based airstrips, which require significant dedicated infrastructure and resources. The two prime contractors selected by DARPA are AeroVironment, Inc., and Northrop Grumman Corp. Article

RFI 144

Petaflops On Desktops: Ideas Wanted For Processing Paradigms That Accelerate Computer Simulations

DARPA’s ACCESS RFI seeks new processing paradigms that have the potential to overcome current barriers in computing performance. Old fashioned analog approaches may be part of the solution. 

Whether designed to predict the spread of an epidemic, understand the potential impacts of climate change, or model the acoustical signature of a newly designed ship hull, computer simulations are an essential tool of scientific discovery. By using mathematical models that capture the complex physical phenomena of the real world, scientists and engineers can validate theories and explore system dynamics that are too costly to test experimentally and too complicated to analyze theoretically. Over the past half century, as supercomputers got faster and more powerful, such simulations became ever more accurate and useful. But in recent years even the best computer architectures haven’t been able to keep up with demand for the kind of simulation processing power needed to handle exceedingly complex design optimization and related problems.  Article

Brandeis 144

DARPA “Brandeis” Program Aims to Ensure Online Privacy Through Technology

Louis Dembitz Brandeis, Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court from 1916 to 1939. 

DARPA announced plans today to research and develop tools for online privacy, one of the most vexing problems facing the connected world as devices and data proliferate beyond a capacity to be managed responsibly. Named for former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who while a student at Harvard law school co-developed the concept of a “right to privacy” in a seminal article under that title, the new program seeks to explore how users can understand, interact with and control data in their systems and in cyberspace through the expression of simple intentions that reflect purpose, acceptable risk and intended benefits such as "only share photos with approved family and friends.” Article

ALIAS 144

ALIAS Prepares for Accelerated Take-Off

DARPA’s Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program 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. In an important step toward that goal, DARPA has awarded prime contracts for Phase 1 of ALIAS to the following companies: Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation (top), Lockheed Martin Corporation (middle) and Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation (bottom). The photos show the aircraft that each performer plans to use to test its respective technologies in Phase 1. 

In the latest step in a decades-long process through which automation has taken on increasing responsibilities in the cockpit—allowing pilots to focus on flight tasks demanding their unique capabilities—DARPA has awarded three contracts for its Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program. ALIAS envisions a tailorable, drop‐in, removable kit that would enable high levels of automation in existing aircraft and facilitate reduced need for 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 that have been made in remotely piloted aircraft technologies, to help shift and refocus pilot workloads, augment mission performance and improve aircraft safety. Article

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