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 Protected Forward Communications (PFC) Program aims to enable small unit tactical operations to persist in electronic warfare (EW) conditions by developing an integrated communication system protecting three distinct conversations from exploitation and denial. More
As nation-state and non-state adversaries adapt and apply commercially available state-of-the-art technology in urban conflict, expeditionary U.S. forces face a shrinking operational advantage in potential future military conflicts, which are most likely to be fought in littoral and coastal cities. The goal of the Prototype Resilient Operations Testbed for Expeditionary Urban Operations (PROTEUS) program is to create and demonstrate tools to develop and test agile expeditionary urban operations concepts based on dynamically composable force packages. More
Researchers have demonstrated effective attacks on machine learning (ML) algorithms. These attacks can cause high-confidence misclassifications of input data, even if the attacker lacks detailed knowledge of the ML classifier algorithm and/or training data. Developing effective defenses against such attacks is essential if ML is to be used for defense, security, or health and safety applications. More
The goal of magnetic sensors is almost always to deduce the location of magnetic objects, however, a single magnetometer measurement is not capable of locating an object because many combinations of magnet locations and strengths will produce the same sensor reading. Furthermore, a magnet's observed field decreases rapidly with distance to the third power while the Earth's large magnetic field obfuscates weaker fields. The combination requires magnetic sensing to operate from close range. Finding magnetic objects must be done by methodically surveying an area at close range over long times. For example, treasure hunting on a beach with a metal detector is a time consuming hobby. More
Typically, the performance of measurement devices is limited by deleterious effects such as thermal noise and vibration. Notable exceptions are atomic clocks, which operate very near their fundamental limits. Driving devices to their physical limits will open new application spaces critical to future DoD systems. Indeed, many defense-critical applications already require exceptionally precise time and frequency standards enabled only by atomic clocks. The Global Positioning System (GPS) and the internet are two key examples. More
Based on current quantum mechanical models, the energy density of the quantum vacuum is predicted to be high. Recent advances in fabricating material nanostructures and cavities have fueled the study of vacuum fluctuation-driven phenomena, indicating that the energy density can be modified locally. More
The goal of the Radio Frequency Machine Learning Systems (RFMLS) Program is to develop the foundations for applying modern data-driven Machine Learning (ML) to the RF Spectrum domain. These innovations form the basis of a new wave of Signal Processing technologies to address performance limitations of conventionally designed radio frequency (RF) systems such as radar, signals intelligence, electronic warfare, and communications. More
The RadioBio program aims to establish whether functional signaling via electromagnetic waves between biological cells exists and, if it does, to determine what mechanisms are involved and what information is being transferred. The program seeks to determine the validity of electromagnetic biosignaling claims and, where evidence exists, understand how the structure and function of these natural “antennas” are capable of generating and receiving information in a noisy, cluttered electromagnetic environment. More