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.

The goal of the EXTREME Program is to develop new optical components, devices, systems, architectures and design tools using Engineered Optical Materials (EnMats) to enable new functionality and/or vastly improve size, weight, and power characteristics of traditional optical systems. EnMats are broadly defined to include, but are not limited to, metamaterials (both metallic and dielectric), scattering surfaces and volumes, holographic structures, and diffractive elements. More
The goal of the FLA program is to explore non-traditional perception and autonomy methods that could enable a new class of algorithms for minimalistic high-speed navigation in cluttered environments. Through this exploration, the program aims to develop and demonstrate the capability for small (i.e., able to fit through windows) autonomous UAVs to fly at speeds up to 20 m/s (45 mph) with no communication links to the operator and without GPS guidance. The FLA program is demonstrating a sequence of novel capabilities, beginning with lower-clutter, fly-by missions and progressing to higher-clutter, fly-through missions. More
Health threats often evolve more quickly than health solutions. Despite ongoing research in the government and the biopharmaceutical industry to identify new therapies, the Department of Defense (DoD) currently lacks tools to address the full spectrum of chemical, biological, and disease threats that could impact the readiness of U.S. forces. More
The Von Neumann architecture has significantly aided the rapid advancement of computing over the past seven decades. However, moving data between the processors and memory components of this architecture requires significant time and high-energy consumption, which constrains the computing performance and workload. Overcoming this bottleneck requires new computing architectures and devices that can significantly advance the computing performance beyond the traditional practice of transistor scaling (i.e., Moore’s Law). More
The Friend or Foe program aims to develop biosurveillance technology that can detect bacterial pathogens as, or even before, they threaten the military and homeland. The goal of the program is to quickly determine whether an unknown bacterium is harmless or virulent by directly identifying pathogenic behavior, avoiding conventional strategies that rely on known biomarkers. More
The goal of the Fundamental Design (FUN Design) program is to determine whether we can develop or discover a new set of building blocks to describe conceptual designs. The design building blocks will capture the components’ underlying physics allowing a family of nonintuitive solutions to be generated. More
Detection of photons—the fundamental particles of light—is ubiquitous, but performance limitations of existing photon detectors hinders the effectiveness of applications such as light/laser detection and ranging (LIDAR/LADAR), photography, astronomy, quantum information science, medical imaging, microscopy and communications. In all of these applications, performance could be improved by replacing classical, analog light detectors with high-performance photon counting detectors. More
FunCC aims to uncover fundamental principles of resilient self-organized complex systems applicable to domains spanning autonomous systems to biological networks, the immune system, and ecosystems. The dynamics and evolution of complex collectives are explored using new frameworks that embrace agent heterogeneity, stochasticity, distributed control, and diffusion of (mis)information. More