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

DARPA Bay Area Software Defined Radio Hackfest
2017
The increased use of wireless and internet-enabled devices—from smartphones and computers to cars and home appliances—and the data they generate are creating opportunities and challenges for the defense and commercial sectors. To help explore and better understand the complex relationship created by the intersection of physical and cyber technology within the ever more congested electromagnetic spectrum, DARPA embarked on a year-long effort to build an engaged community of engineers and scientists operating within relevant technical areas.
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DARPA Electronics Resurgence Initiative
2017
On June 1, 2017, the DARPA Microsystems Technology Office (MTO) announced a new Electronics Resurgence Initiative (ERI) to ensure far-reaching improvements in electronics performance well beyond the limits of traditional scaling by way of miniaturizing transistors and other components and increasing the complexity of component integration.
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JUMP
2017
In collaboration with the non-profit Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC), DARPA recruited a consortium of cost-sharing industry partners to fund and oversee the Joint University Microelectronics Program (JUMP). Like a related predecessor program, STARnet, JUMP consists of a half-dozen university-based research centers, each dedicated to a different technology theme and collectively supporting fundamental microelectronics research of hundreds of professional scientists and their students. The goal is to catalyze innovations for increasing the performance, efficiency, and overall capabilities of broad classes of electronics systems for both commercial and military applications.
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Service Academies Swarm Challenge
2017
To help make effective swarm tactics with small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and other robots a reality, DARPA planned and organized the Service Academies Swarm Challenge, a collaboration between the Agency and the three U.S. military Service academies—the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy, and the U.S. Air Force Academy. An experiment at its heart, the research effort was designed to encourage students to develop innovative offensive and defensive tactics for swarms of small UAVs.
ACTUV Christening
2018
On January 25, 2018, DARPA took its Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) program to one of the best finish lines the Agency knows of—an official transfer of a technology to a follow-on steward of development or to an end user in the field. In this case, following a period of open-water tests of the program’s demonstration vessel—dubbed “Sea Hunter”—to the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the latter organization officially took over responsibility of developing the revolutionary prototype vehicle as the Medium Displacement Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MDUSV).
Spectrum Collaboration Challenge (SC2)
2019

In 2016, DARPA rolled out a new Grand Challenge, the Spectrum Collaboration Challenge (SC2), with the goal of ensuring that the exponentially growing number of military and civilian wireless devices have ready access to increasingly crowded electromagnetic spectrum when needed. SC2 was designed to encourage researchers to develop smart systems that collaboratively, rather than competitively, adapt in real time to the fast-changing, congested spectrum environment—redefining the conventional spectrum management roles of humans and machines to maximize the flow of radio frequency (RF) signals. The primary goal of SC2 was to imbue radios with advanced machine-learning capabilities so that they could collectively develop strategies that optimize use of the wireless spectrum in ways not possible with today’s intrinsically inefficient approach of pre-allocating exclusive access to designated frequencies.

SC2 unfolded over a three-year period with two preliminary competitions preceding a live finale that occurred in October 2019. Team GatorWings from the University of Florida won first place in the competition, followed by Team MarmotE, comprised of current and former Vanderbilt University researchers, in second place, and Team Zylinium, a three-person start-up with expertise in software-defined radios and AI, in third place.

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