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 United States military is heavily dependent on networked communication to fulfill its missions. The wide-area network (WAN) infrastructure that supports this communication is vulnerable to a wide range of failures and cyber attacks that can severely impair connectivity and mission effectiveness at critical junctures. Examples include inadvertent or malicious misconfiguration of network devices, hardware and software failures, extended delays in Internet Protocol (IP) route convergence, denial of service (DoS) flooding attacks, and a variety of control-plane and data-plane attacks resulting from malicious code embedded within network devices. More
The Electrical Prescriptions (ElectRx) program aims to support military operational readiness by reducing the time to treatment, logistical challenges, and potential off-target effects associated with traditional medical interventions for a wide range of physical and mental health conditions commonly faced by our warfighters. ElectRx seeks to deliver non-pharmacological treatments for pain, general inflammation, post-traumatic stress, severe anxiety, and trauma that employ precise, closed-loop, non-invasive modulation of the patient’s peripheral nervous system. More
Complex physical systems, devices and processes important to the Department of Defense (DoD) are often poorly understood due to uncertainty in models, parameters, operating environments and measurements. The goal of DARPA’s Enabling Quantification of Uncertainty in Physical Systems (EQUiPS) program is to provide a rigorous mathematical framework and advanced tools for propagating and managing uncertainty in the modeling and design of complex physical and engineering systems. Of particular interest to the program are systems with multi-scale coupled physics and uncertain parameters in extremely high-dimensional spaces, such as new aerospace vehicles and engines. More
The goal of the Engineered Living Materials (ELM) program is to develop living materials that combine the structural properties of traditional building materials with attributes of living systems, including the ability to rapidly grow, self-repair, and adapt to the environment. Living materials represent a new opportunity to leverage engineered biology to solve existing problems associated with the construction and maintenance of our built environments, as well as new capabilities to craft smart infrastructure that dynamically responds to the surroundings. More
Malicious actors in cyberspace currently operate with little fear of being caught due to the fact that it is extremely difficult, in some cases perhaps even impossible, to reliably and confidently attribute actions in cyberspace to individuals. The reason cyber attribution is difficult stems at least in part from a lack of end-to-end accountability in the current Internet infrastructure. More
The Epigenetic CHaracterization and Observation (ECHO) program aims to diminish the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction (WMD). To do this, the program is building a man-portable device that analyzes an individual’s epigenetic “fingerprint” to potentially reveal a detailed history of that individual’s exposure to WMD or their precursors. DARPA envisions that the same technology could provide rapid diagnostics for troops who may have been exposed to threat agents or who may be suffering from infections, providing a timely signal to apply effective medical countermeasures. More
Dramatic success in machine learning has led to a torrent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications. Continued advances promise to produce autonomous systems that will perceive, learn, decide, and act on their own. However, the effectiveness of these systems is limited by the machine’s current inability to explain their decisions and actions to human users (Figure 1). The Department of Defense (DoD) is facing challenges that demand more intelligent, autonomous, and symbiotic systems. Explainable AI—especially explainable machine learning—will be essential if future warfighters are to understand, appropriately trust, and effectively manage an emerging generation of artificially intelligent machine partners. More
The threat of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks has been well-recognized in the data networking world for two decades. Such attacks are orchestrated by sets of networked hosts that collectively act to disrupt or deny access to information, communications or computing capabilities, generally by exhausting critical resources such as bandwidth, processor capacity or memory of targeted resources. More