Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyAbout UsHistory and Timeline

Where the Future Becomes Now

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency was created with a national sense of urgency in February 1958 amidst one of the most dramatic moments in the history of the Cold War and the already-accelerating pace of technology. In the months preceding the official authorization for the agency’s creation, Department of Defense Directive Number 5105.15, the Soviet Union had launched an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), the world’s first satellite, Sputnik 1, and the world’s second satellite, Sputnik II… More

Intrachip/Interchip Enhanced Cooling (ICECool) The increased density of electronic components and subsystems in military electronic systems exacerbates the thermal management challenges facing engineers. The military platforms that host these systems often cannot physically accommodate the large cooling systems needed for thermal management, meaning that heat can be a limiting factor for performance of electronics and embedded computers.
Blast Gauge
Under a DARPA contract, the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) developed the Blast Gauge, a small device worn by warfighters to measure blast exposure and cue medics for initial response. This phase of the project took just 11 months with a total development cost of approximately $1 million. As field tests began, and design refinement and larger production quantities were required, RIT researchers formed BlackBox Biometrics, a small business to commercialize and manufacture the Blast Gauges.
Atlas Robot

The Atlas disaster-response robot made its public debut on July 11, 2013. In its original form, the 6’2”, 330-lb. humanoid robot—developed for DARPA by Boston Dynamics of Waltham, Mass.—was capable of a range of natural movements. A tether connected the robot to both an off-board power supply and computer through which a human operator issued commands.

Legged Squad Support System (LS3)
To help alleviate physical weight on troops, DARPA developed a four-legged robot, the Legged Squad Support System (LS3), to integrate with squads of Marines or Soldiers. LS3 demonstrated that a highly mobile, semi-autonomous legged robot could carry 400 lbs of a squad’s load, follow squad members through rugged terrain and interact with troops in a natural way, similar to a trained animal and its handler.
STARnet Established
DARPA and key companies from the semiconductor and defense industries established the Semiconductor Technology Advanced Research Network, or STARnet. This effort, which lasted until 2017 when it was superseded by a similar program known as JUMP, supported large university communities to look beyond the current evolutionary directions in microelectronics research and development.
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World Record Silicon-based Millimeter-wave Power Amplifiers
Two set of DARPA performers—one team with researchers from the University of Southern California and Columbia University and another with researchers from MIT and Carnegie Mellon University—achieved world-record power output levels using silicon-based technologies for millimeter-wave power amplifiers. RF power amplifiers are used in communications and sensor systems to boost power levels for more reliable transmission of signals over greater distances.
Biological Technologies Office Opens
DARPA in 2014 created its Biological Technologies Office (BTO), which has enabled a new level of momentum for DARPA’s portfolio of innovative, biology-based programs. The impetus for creating this new office was the maturation of genetic technologies and bioinformatics, in conjunction with breakthroughs in neuroscience, immunology, and related biomedical fields.
DARPA’s Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance (EXACTO) program conducted the first successful live-fire tests demonstrating in-flight guidance of .50-caliber bullets. EXACTO rounds maneuvered in flight to hit targets that were offset from where the sniper rifle was aimed. EXACTO’s specially designed ammunition and real-time optical guidance system help track and direct projectiles to their targets during flight by compensating for weather, wind, target movement, and other factors that could impede successful hits.