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.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) systems have advanced significantly in recent years. Despite a wide range of impressive results, current AI is not intelligent in the biological sense. These systems are limited to performing only those tasks for which they have been specifically programmed and trained, and are inherently subject to safety hazards when encountering situations outside them. More
Unlike photonic sensors that exploit the photoelectric effect to enable infrared imaging at cryogenic temperatures, uncooled thermal sensors work by allowing an infrared absorbing material to be heated by incident electromagnetic radiation to produce an image. Such thermal sensing devices, also known as bolometers, have traditionally been less sensitive and slower than their cooled photonic analogs. More
Current and emerging Department of Defense (DoD) capabilities rely upon access to a number of critical, high-value molecules that are often prohibitively expensive, unable to be domestically sourced, and/or impossible to manufacture using traditional synthetic approaches. DARPA’s Living Foundries program aims to enable adaptable, scalable, and on-demand production of such molecules by programming the fundamental metabolic processes of biological systems to generate a vast number of complex molecules that are not otherwise accessible. More
The Department of Defense (DoD)’s Joint Logistics Enterprise, which spans both supply chain and logistics operations, provides the means to muster, transport, and sustain military power anywhere in the world at a high level of readiness. More
The U.S. Government operates globally and frequently encounters so-called “low-resource” languages for which no automated human language technology capability exists. Historically, development of technology for automated exploitation of foreign language materials has required protracted effort and a large data investment. Current methods can require multiple years and tens of millions of dollars per language—mostly to construct translated or transcribed corpora. More
Machine common sense has long been a critical—but missing—component of AI. Its absence is perhaps the most significant barrier between the narrowly focused AI applications we have today and the more general, human-like AI systems we would like to build in the future. The MCS program seeks to create the computing foundations needed to develop machine commonsense services to enable AI applications to understand new situations, monitor the reasonableness of their actions, communicate more effectively with people, and transfer learning to new domains. More
The Magnetic Miniaturized and Monolithically Integrated Components (M3IC) program aims to integrate magnetic components onto semiconductor materials, improving the size and functionality of electromagnetic (EM) systems for communications, radar, and electronic warfare (EW). Current EM systems use magnetic components such as circulators, inductors, and isolators, but these are bulky and cannot be integrated with miniaturized electronic circuitry. More
Synthetic chemistry is important across countless technological areas, from medicines to energetics to advanced coatings to functional materials. While our synthetic capabilities have developed rapidly over the last century, current approaches are still slow and inefficient, with poor reproducibility and scalability and limited use of prior knowledge. Such an approach not only limits production of known materials, but also impedes discovery of better synthetic routes and completely new molecules. More