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.

Electronic system security has become an increasingly critical area of concern for the DoD and more broadly for security of the U.S. as a whole. Current efforts to provide electronic security largely rely on robust software development and integration. Present responses to hardware vulnerability attacks typically consist of developing and deploying patches to the software firewall without identifying or addressing the underlying hardware vulnerability. As a result, while a specific attack or vulnerability instance is defeated, creative programmers can develop new methods to exploit the remaining hardware vulnerability and a continuous cycle of exploitation, patching, and subsequent exploitations ensues. More
The Department of Defense (DoD) often leverages social and behavioral science (SBS) research to design plans, guide investments, assess outcomes, and build models of human social systems and behaviors as they relate to national security challenges in the human domain. However, a number of recent empirical studies and meta-analyses have revealed that many SBS results vary dramatically in terms of their ability to be independently reproduced or replicated, which could have real-world implications for DoD’s plans, decisions, and models. To help address this situation, DARPA’s Systematizing Confidence in Open Research and Evidence (SCORE) program aims to develop and deploy automated tools to assign "confidence scores" to different SBS research results and claims. More
The Systems-Based Neurotechnology for Emerging Therapies (SUBNETS) program aims to improve force health by using neurotechnology as the basis for effective, informed, and precise treatments for neuropsychiatric illnesses in military Service members. The effects of such illnesses, brought on by war, traumatic injuries, and other experiences, remain challenging to treat. Current treatment approaches—surgery, medications, and psychotherapy—can often help to alleviate the worst effects of illnesses such as major depression and post-traumatic stress, but they are imprecise and not universally effective. Through SUBNETS, DARPA seeks to generate the knowledge and technology required to deliver relief to patients with otherwise intractable neuropsychiatric illness. More
Systems that operate at hypersonic speeds—five times the speed of sound (Mach 5) and beyond—offer the potential for military operations from longer ranges with shorter response times and enhanced effectiveness compared to current military systems. Such systems could provide significant payoff for future U.S. offensive strike operations, particularly as adversaries’ capabilities advance. More
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The capabilities and technical specifications required for Department of Defense (DoD) platforms are constantly changing due to unanticipated circumstances, needs and emerging threats. However, complex development and design cycles and the associated high costs of structural design changes for current technologies significantly limit our ability to rapidly and affordably evolve such systems. More
In a target-dense environment, the adversary has the advantage of using sophisticated decoys and background traffic to degrade the effectiveness of existing automatic target recognition (ATR) solutions. Airborne strike operations against relocatable targets require that pilots fly close enough to obtain confirmatory visual identification before weapon release, putting the manned platform at extreme risk. Radar provides a means for imaging ground targets at safer and far greater standoff distances; but the false-alarm rate of both human and machine-based radar image recognition is unacceptably high. Existing ATR algorithms also require impractically large computing resources for airborne applications.   More
The Targeted Neuroplasticity Training (TNT) program supports improved, accelerated training of military personnel in multifaceted and complex tasks. The program is investigating the use of non-invasive neurotechnology in combination with training to boost the neurochemical signaling in the brain that mediates neural plasticity and facilitates long-term retention of new cognitive skills. If successful, TNT technology would apply to a wide range of defense-relevant needs, including foreign language learning, marksmanship, cryptography, target discrimination, and intelligence analysis, improving outcomes while reducing the cost and duration of the Defense Department’s extensive training regimen. More
The Technologies for Host Resilience (THoR) Program aims to develop new methods to maintain and optimize force health in the face of new and emerging infectious diseases. The goal is to discover the molecular mechanisms for tolerance of infection in animals, and develop therapeutic strategies that modulate the resilience of humans against infection. This capability would support military readiness by enabling warfighters to weather the storm of infectious diseases in low-resource or remote settings where pathogen-specific therapeutics or intensive care unit capabilities may not be locally available. More