Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyOur Research

Our Research

DARPA’s investment strategy begins with a portfolio approach. Reaching for outsized impact means taking on risk, and high risk in pursuit of high payoff is a hallmark of DARPA’s programs. We pursue our objectives through hundreds of programs. By design, programs are finite in duration while creating lasting revolutionary change. They address a wide range of technology opportunities and national security challenges. This assures that while individual efforts might fail—a natural consequence of taking on risk—the total portfolio delivers. More

For reference, past DARPA research programs can be viewed in the Past Programs Archive.

Modern expeditionary military missions generate and exchange massive amounts of data that are used to produce situational awareness and guide decision-making. Much of the data must travel long distances along backbone communications networks composed of high-capacity links that connect command centers. More
The ultimate goal of the DARPA Accelerated Computation for Efficient Scientific Simulation (ACCESS) is to demonstrate new, specialized benchtop technology that can solve large problems in complex physical systems on the hour timescale, compared to existing methods that require full cluster-scale supercomputing resources and take weeks to months. The core principle of the program is to leverage advances in optics, MEMS, additive manufacturing, and other emerging technologies to develop new non-traditional hybrid analog and digital computational means. More
The current standard method for validating a user’s identity for authentication on an information system requires humans to do something that is inherently unnatural: create, remember, and manage long, complex passwords. Moreover, as long as the session remains active, typical systems incorporate no mechanisms to verify that the user originally authenticated is the user still in control of the keyboard. Thus unauthorized individuals may improperly obtain extended access to information system resources if a password is compromised or if a user does not exercise adequate vigilance after initially authenticating at the console. More
U.S. military, government and commercial IT networks face constant cyberattack from both criminal and state-sponsored adversaries. Current IT security response practices to these attacks boil down to four steps: find the invading code, unplug the affected systems, create security patches to thwart particular attacks, and apply those patches network-wide. This reactive engagement model is effective on a case-by-case basis but does not address key advantages attackers have—for example, adversaries can easily make small changes to malware that bypass patches and distribute that new malware on a massive scale. More
| Cyber |
The military relies heavily on the Global Positioning System (GPS) for positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT), but GPS access is easily blocked by methods such as jamming. In addition, many environments in which our military operates (inside buildings, in urban canyons, under dense foliage, underwater, and underground) have limited or no GPS access. To solve this challenge, Adaptable Navigation Systems (ANS) seeks to provide GPS-quality PNT to military users regardless of the operational environment. More
Military sensor systems typically require between three and eight years to complete, resulting in sensor technology unable to keep pace with rapidly evolving mission needs. Commercial systems of similar complexity, forced by competitive pressures, are routinely developed in one to two years. More
Current airborne electronic warfare (EW) systems must first identify a threat radar to determine the appropriate preprogrammed electronic countermeasure (ECM) technique. This approach loses effectiveness as radars evolve from fixed analog systems to programmable digital variants with unknown behaviors and agile waveforms. Future radars will likely present an even greater challenge as they will be capable of sensing the environment and adapting their transmissions and signal processing to maximize performance and mitigate interference effects. More
| EW | ISR | Spectrum |
The Adaptive RF Technology (ART) program aims to significantly advance the hardware used in communication radios by developing a fully adaptive and reconfigurable architecture that is agnostic to specified waveforms and standards. ART-enabled “cognitive” radios would be able to reconfigure themselves to operate in any frequency band with any modulation and for multiple access specifications under a range of environmental and operating conditions. More