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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 past decade has seen explosive growth in development and training of artificial intelligence (AI) systems. However, as AI has taken on progressively more complex problems, the amount of computation required to train the largest AI systems has been increasing ten-fold annually. While AI advances are beginning to have a deep impact in digital computing processes, trade-offs between computational capability, resources and size, weight, and power consumption (SWaP) will become increasingly critical in the near future. More
Efficient discovery and production of new molecules is essential to realize capabilities across the DoD, from simulants and medicines essential to counter emerging threats, to coatings, dyes and specialty fuels needed for advanced performance. More
The United States Government has an interest in developing and maintaining a strategic understanding of events, situations, and trends around the world, in a variety of domains. The information used in developing this understanding comes from many disparate sources, in a variety of genres, and data types, and as a mixture of structured and unstructured data. Unstructured data can include text or speech in English and a variety of other languages, as well as images, videos, and other sensor information. More
Over the past 40 years, our world has become increasingly connected. These connections have enabled major advances in national security from pervasive real-time intelligence and communications to optimal logistics. With this connectivity has come the threat of cyber attacks on both military systems and critical infrastructure. While we focus the vast majority of our security efforts on protecting computers and networks, more than 80 percent of cyber attacks and over 70 percent of those from nation states are initiated by exploiting humans rather than computer or network security flaws. To build secure cyber systems, it is necessary to protect not only the computers and networks that make up these systems but their human users as well.. More
The goal of the Adaptable Lighter Than Air (ALTA) program is to develop and demonstrate a high altitude lighter-than-air vehicle capable of wind-borne navigation over extended ranges. The balloons can fly at altitudes of more than 75,000 feet. More
| Air |
The goal of the Adapting Cross-Domain Kill-Webs (ACK) program is to provide a decision aid for mission commanders to assist them with rapidly identifying and selecting options for tasking – and retasking – assets within and across organizational boundaries. More
Warfighters are travelers, and the bodily inconveniences suffered by travelers, such as jet lag and traveler's diarrhea, can seriously degrade operational readiness and even determine mission success or failure. To maximize warfighter performance, the ADvanced Acclimation and Protection Tool for Environmental Readiness (ADAPTER) program will develop systems that provide warfighters greater control over their own physiology. More
In the decades-long quest to develop reusable aircraft that can reach hypersonic speeds – Mach 5 (approximately 3,300 miles per hour/5,300 kilometers per hour) and above – engineers have grappled with two intertwined, seemingly intractable challenges: The top speed of traditional jet-turbine engines maxes out at roughly Mach 2.5, while hypersonic engines such as scramjets cannot provide effective thrust at speeds much below Mach 3.5. More
| Air |
The Advanced Plant Technologies (APT) program seeks to develop plants capable of serving as next-generation, persistent, ground-based sensor technologies to protect deployed troops and the homeland by detecting and reporting on chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) threats. Such biological sensors would be effectively energy-independent, increasing their potential for wide distribution, while reducing risks associated with deployment and maintenance of traditional sensors. These technologies could also potentially support humanitarian operations by, for example, detecting unexploded ordnance in post-conflict settings. More
Airspace for the flying public today is perpetually congested yet remarkably safe, thanks in no small part to a well-established air traffic control system that tracks, guides and continuously monitors thousands of flights a day. When it comes to small unmanned aerial systems (UAS) such as commercial quadcopters, however, no such comprehensive tracking system exists. And as off-the-shelf UAS become less expensive, easier to fly, and more adaptable for terrorist or military purposes, U.S. forces will increasingly be challenged by the need to quickly detect and identify such craft—especially in urban areas, where sight lines are limited and many objects may be moving at similar speeds. More
The Agile Teams (A-Teams) program aims to discover, test, and demonstrate generalizable mathematical abstractions for the design of agile human-machine teams and to provide predictive insight into team performance. More
Destroying bulk stores of chemical warfare agents (CWAs) and organic precursors is a significant challenge for the international community. Today, for example, there are no approaches that exploit chemistries that are truly agnostic in terms of the agents that can be processed. In addition, current approaches require transport of agents from the storage site to a neutralization site. Ensuring safe transport of the agent can add significant cost and time to the process. More
Military aircraft have evolved to incorporate ever more automated capabilities, improving mission safety and success rates. Yet operators of even the most automated aircraft must still manage dauntingly complex interfaces and be prepared to respond effectively in emergencies and other unexpected situations that no amount of training can fully prepare one for. More
The goal of All Together Now (ATN) is to develop theoretical protocols and experimental techniques that enable new collective atom regimes, leading to sensitivities approaching the ultimate fundamental limits of performance. More
DARPA's Angler program seeks to develop undersea autonomous robotic solutions capable of navigating ocean depths, surveying wide areas, and physically manipulating manmade objects of interest on the sea floor. The program builds on the agency's previous advances in autonomous robotic manipulation on Earth and in space, and aims to process mission commands, sensor inputs, and information about the deep ocean environment to complete tasks with no human intervention. More
The Artificial Intelligence Research Associate (AIRA) program is part of a broad DARPA initiative to develop and apply “Third Wave” AI technologies that are robust to sparse data and adversarial spoofing, and that incorporate domain-relevant knowledge through generative contextual and explanatory models. More
Humans intuitively combine pre-existing knowledge with observations and contextual clues to construct rich mental models of the world around them and use these models to evaluate goals, perform thought experiments, make predictions, and update their situational understanding. When the environment contains other people, humans use a skill called theory of mind (ToM) to infer their mental states from observed actions and context, and predict future actions from those inferred states. More
Autonomy refers to a system’s ability to accomplish goals independently, or with minimal supervision from human operators in environments that are complex and unpredictable. Autonomous systems are increasingly critical to several current and future Department of Defense (DoD) mission needs. More
Our society’s infrastructure is increasingly dependent on software deployed on a wide variety of computing devices other than commodity personal computers, such as industrial equipment, automobiles, and airplanes. Unlike commodity computers that have short upgrade cycles and are easily replaceable in case of failure, these computing devices are intended for longer service, and are hard to replace. More
| Cyber | Systems |
The Atmosphere as a Sensor (AtmoSense) program is a fundamental science program that seeks to understand the propagation of mechanical and electromagnetic energy from the surface of the Earth through the Earth's ionosphere due to transient events such as meteorological sources, geophysical sources, prompt hazards, etc. For example, an event on the surface of the Earth, such as a volcanic eruption, will produce radially outward longitudinal mechanical perturbations on the atmosphere. More
| Space |
Water transport is as mission-critical and as logistically challenging as fuel transport for the U.S. military. Meeting deployed military water needs requires equipment resources, consumes fuel, and endangers personnel. The goal of DARPA’s Atmospheric Water Extraction (AWE) program is to provide potable freshwater for a range of military, stabilization, and humanitarian needs through the development of small, lightweight, low-powered, distributable systems that extract potable water from the atmosphere to meet the drinking needs of individuals and groups, even in extremely arid climates. More
Precise timing is essential across DoD systems, including communications, navigation, electronic warfare, intelligence systems reconnaissance, and system-of-systems platform coordination, as well as in national infrastructure applications in commerce and banking, telecommunications, and power distribution. Improved clock performance throughout the timing network, particularly at point-of-use, would enable advanced collaborative capabilities and provide greater resilience to disruptions of timing synchronization networks, notably by reducing reliance on satellite-based global navigation satellite system (GNSS) timing signals. More
State-of-the-art magnetometers are used for diverse civilian and DoD applications, among them biomedical imaging, navigation, and detecting unexploded ordnance and underwater and underground anomalies. Commercially available magnetometers range from inexpensive Hall probes to highly sensitive fluxgate and atomic magnetometers to high-precision Superconducting Quantum Interference Device (SQUID) and Spin Exchange Relaxation Free (SERF) magnetometers. More
The process of determining that a software system’s risk is acceptable is referred to as “certification.” Current certification practices within the Department of Defense (DoD) are antiquated and unable to scale with the amount of software deployed. Two factors prevent scaling: (a) the use of human evaluators to determine if the system meets certification criteria, and (b) the lack of a principled means to decompose evaluations. More
| Cyber | Formal | Trust |
For the past decade, cybersecurity threats have moved from high in the software stack to progressively lower levels of the computational hierarchy, working their way towards the underlying hardware. Despite growing recognition of the issue, there are no common tools, methods, or solutions for chip-level security currently in wide use. This is largely driven by the economic hurdles and technical trade-offs often associated with secure chip design. Further, modern chip design methods are unforgiving – once a chip is designed, adding security after the fact or making changes to address newly discovered threats is nearly impossible. More
The Automating Scientific Knowledge Extraction (ASKE) program aims to develop technology to automate some of the manual processes of scientific knowledge discovery, curation and application. ASKE is part of DARPA's Artificial Intelligence Exploration (AIE) program, a key component of the agency’s broader AI investment strategy aimed at ensuring the United States maintains an advantage in this critical and rapidly accelerating technology area. More
The Autonomous Diagnostics to Enable Prevention and Therapeutics (ADEPT) program supports individual troop readiness and total force health protection by developing technologies to rapidly identify and respond to threats posed by natural and engineered diseases and toxins. A subset of ADEPT technologies specifically support use by personnel with minimal medical training, delivering centralized laboratory capabilities even in the low-resource environments typical of many military operations. The program is part of a portfolio of DARPA-funded research aimed at providing options for preempting or mitigating constantly evolving infectious disease threats. More
The Battlefield Medicine program supports military readiness in far-forward deployed settings by overcoming logistical obstacles to manufacturing and delivery of urgently needed pharmaceutical products used to treat emerging threats. More
The Bioelectronics for Tissue Regeneration (BETR) program will develop technology aimed at speeding warfighter recovery, and thus resilience, by directly intervening in wound healing. To do this, researchers will build an adaptive system that uses actuators to biochemically or biophysically stimulate tissue, sensors to track the body’s complex response to that stimulation, and adaptive learning algorithms to integrate sensor data and dictate intervention to the actuators. More
The Biological Control program seeks to support a wide range of potential Department of Defense (DoD) applications by establishing design and control principles that lead to reliable performance in biological systems. Leveraging technologies developed under this program will enable consistent operation of systems that combat biological threats; speed healing after physical trauma; and support military readiness by complementing the body’s natural defenses against emerging diseases. More
The Biological Robustness in Complex Settings (BRICS) program aims to transform engineered microbial biosystems into reliable, cost-effective strategic resources for the Department of Defense (DoD), enabling future applications in the areas of intelligence, readiness, and force protection. Examples include the identification of the geographical provenance of objects; protection of critical systems and infrastructure against corrosion, biofouling, and other damage; sensing of hazardous compounds; and efficient, on-demand bio-production of novel coatings, fuels, and drugs. More
The Biostasis program aims to extend the time for lifesaving medical treatment, often referred to as “the Golden Hour,” following traumatic injury or acute infection, thus increasing survivability for military personnel operating in far-forward conditions with limited access to medical professionals or trauma centers. To do so, Biostasis is developing novel chemical biology approaches that reversibly and controllably slow biological systems without cold-chain to stabilize and protect their functional capacity until medical intervention is possible. More
National Security Space (NSS) assets, critical to U.S. warfighting capabilities, traditionally reside in geosynchronous orbit to deliver persistent overhead access to any point on the globe. In the increasingly contested space environment, these exquisite, costly, and monolithic systems have become vulnerable targets that would take years to replace if degraded or destroyed. DARPA’s Blackjack program aims to develop and demonstrate the critical elements for a global high-speed network in low Earth orbit (LEO) that provides the Department of Defense with highly connected, resilient, and persistent coverage. More
How can society responsibly reap the benefits of big data while protecting individual privacy? More
| Data | Privacy |
The Bridging the Gap Plus (BG+) program aims to develop new approaches for treating spinal cord injury by integrating injury stabilization, regenerative therapy, and functional restoration. To achieve this combinatorial approach, BG+ teams will build two systems of implantable and adaptive devices. The first system will reduce injury effects during the early phases of spinal cord injury. More
Modern-day software operates within a complex ecosystem of libraries, models, protocols and devices. Ecosystems change over time in response to new technologies or paradigms, as a consequence of repairing discovered vulnerabilities (security, logical, or performance-related), or because of varying resource availability and reconfiguration of the underlying execution platform. When these changes occur, applications may no longer work as expected because their assumptions on how the ecosystem should behave may have been inadvertently violated. More
Over the last 15 years, the U.S. military has increasingly been called upon to face complex operational environments (OE) and diverse enemies. Such complex OEs require the actions of U.S. forces and host-nation or coalition partners to be based on a common holistic understanding of the OE (e.g., governments, population groups, security forces, and violent non-state actors) and, in particular, the causal dynamics that can manifest as unanticipated and often counter-intuitive outcomes. More
It can cost up to $100 million and take more than two years for a large team of engineers to design custom integrated circuits for specific tasks, such as synchronizing the activity of unmanned aerial vehicles or the real-time conversion of raw radar data into tactically useful 3-D imagery. This is why Defense Department engineers often turn to inexpensive and readily available general-purpose circuits, and then rely on software to make those circuits run the specialized operations they need. More
An emergent type of geopolitical warfare in recent years has been coined "gray zone competition," or simply "competition," because it sits in a nebulous area between peace and conventional conflict. It’s not openly declared or defined, it’s slower and is prosecuted more subtly using social, psychological, religious, information, cyber and other means to achieve physical or cognitive objectives with or without violence. The lack of clarity of intent in competition activity makes it challenging to detect, characterize, and counter an enemy fighting this way. More
The explosive growth in mobile and telecommunication markets has pushed the semiconductor industry toward integration of digital, analog, and mixed-signal blocks into system-on-chip (SoC) solutions. Advanced silicon (Si) complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology has enabled this integration, but has also led to a rise in costs associated with design and processing. Driven by aggressive digital CMOS scaling for high-volume products, Intellectual Property (IP) reuse has emerged as a tool to help lower design costs associated with advanced SoCs. More
The Communicating with Computers (CwC) program aims to enable symmetric communication between people and computers in which machines are not merely receivers of instructions but collaborators, able to harness a full range of natural modes including language, gesture and facial or other expressions. For the purposes of the CwC program, communication is understood to be the sharing of complex ideas in collaborative contexts. Complex ideas are assumed to be built from a relatively small set of elementary ideas, and language is thought to specify such complex ideas—but not completely, because language is ambiguous and depends in part on context, which can augment language and improve the specification of complex ideas. More
In order to transform machine learning systems from tools into partners, users need to trust their machine counterpart. One component to building a trusted relationship is knowledge of a partner’s competence (an accurate insight into a partner’s skills, experience, and reliability in dynamic environments). While state-of-the-art machine learning systems can perform well when their behaviors are applied in contexts similar to their learning experiences, they are unable to communicate their task strategies, the completeness of their training relative to a given task, the factors that may influence their actions, or their likelihood to succeed under specific conditions. More
System-of-Systems (SoS) architectures are increasingly central in managing defense, national security and urban infrastructure applications. However, it is difficult to model and currently impossible to systematically design such complex systems using existing tools, which has led to inferior performance, unexpected problems and weak resilience. More
Accurate multi-physics simulation codes are essential for understanding the behavior of complex DoD systems, but they are generally not available from the commercial sector and have to be custom built. Current approaches to building simulation codes scale poorly with the number of interacting physics involved and often introduce inaccuracies that are difficult to trace and quantify. More
A rapidly increasing percentage of the world’s population is connected to the global information environment. At the same time, the information environment is enabling social interactions that are radically changing how and at what rate information spreads. Both nation-states and nonstate actors have increasingly drawn upon this global information environment to promote their beliefs and further related goals. More
The Department of Defense (DoD) maintains information systems that depend on Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software, Government off-the-shelf (GOTS) software, and Free and open source (FOSS) software. Securing this diverse technology base requires highly skilled hackers who reason about the functionality of software and identify novel vulnerabilities. More
The growth of the internet-of-things (IoT) and network-connected composed systems (e.g., aircraft, critical-infrastructure, etc.) has led to unprecedented technical diversity in deployed systems. From consumer IoT devices developed with minimal built-in security, which are often co-opted by malware to launch large distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on internet infrastructure, to remote attacks on Industrial Control System (ICS) devices, these newly connected, composed systems provide a vast attack surface. While the diversity of functionality and the scope of what can now be connected, monitored, and controlled over the Internet has increased dramatically, economies of scale have decreased platform diversity. More
Recent technological advances have made the longstanding dream of on-orbit robotic servicing of satellites a near-term possibility. The potential advantages of that unprecedented capability are enormous. Instead of designing their satellites to accommodate the harsh reality that, once launched, their investments could never be repaired or upgraded, satellite owners could use robotic vehicles to physically inspect, assist, and modify their on-orbit assets. That could significantly lower construction and deployment costs while dramatically extending satellite utility, resilience, and reliability. More
CREATE aims to explore the utility of artificial intelligence (AI) on the autonomous formation of scalable machine-to-machine teams capable of reacting to and learning from unexpected missions in the absence of centralized communication and control. CREATE seeks to develop the theoretical foundations of autonomous AI teaming to enable a system of heterogeneous, contextually-aware agents to act in a decentralized manner and satisfy multiple, simultaneous and unplanned missions goals. More
The Control of Revolutionary Aircraft with Novel Effectors (CRANE) program aims to design, build, and flight test a novel X-plane that incorporates Active Flow Control (AFC) as a primary design consideration. Crane seeks to optimize the benefits of active flow control by maturing technologies and design tools, and incorporating them early in the design process. More
| Air |
Dominance of the radio frequency (RF) spectrum is critical to successful U.S. military operations. Today, we do this using discrete radar, electronic warfare (EW), and communication payloads that are separately designed, procured, and integrated on platforms. These payloads typically use dedicated apertures, are realized with tightly coupled hardware and software, and are not well-coordinated in their use of spectrum. This rigid and constrained approach makes it difficult and time-consuming to adopt new technology, adapt to rapidly changing adversary threats, maneuver functions effectively in spectrum, and create comprehensive compact RF systems. More
The Cross-Domain Maritime Surveillance and Targeting (CDMaST) program seeks to identify and implement architectures consisting of novel combinations of manned and unmanned systems to deny ocean environments to adversaries as a means of projecting power. More
Embedded computing systems are ubiquitous in critical infrastructure, vehicles, smart devices, and military systems. Conventional wisdom once held that cyberattacks against embedded systems were not a concern since they seldom had traditional networking connections on which an attack could occur. However, attackers have learned to bridge air gaps that surround the most sensitive embedded systems, and network connectivity is now being extended to even the most remote of embedded systems. More
| Cyber | Formal | Trust |
Networks within the United States and abroad face increasingly broad-spectrum cyber threats from numerous actors and novel attack vectors. Malicious activity also crosscuts organizational boundaries, as nefarious actors use networks with less protection to pivot into networks containing key assets. Detection of these threats requires adjustments to network and host sensors at machine speed. Additionally, the data required to detect these threats may be distributed across devices and networks. In all of these cases, the threat actors are using technology to perpetrate their attacks and hide their activities and movement, both physical and virtual, inside DoD, commercial, and Internet Access Provider (IAP) networks. More
The goal of the DARPA Launch Challenge is to demonstrate responsive and flexible space launch capabilities from the burgeoning industry of small launch providers. For nearly 60 years, the nation’s space architecture has been built around exquisite systems that are launched by large, expensive boosters. The development cycle with the systems is tedious, with a process driven by a desire to reduce risk, rather than deliver timely capabilities. More
The DARPA Subterranean (SubT) Challenge aims to develop innovative technologies that would augment operations underground. The SubT Challenge will explore new approaches to rapidly map, navigate, search, and exploit complex underground environments, including human-made tunnel systems, urban underground, and natural cave networks. More
Understanding the complex and increasingly data-intensive world around us relies on the construction of robust empirical models, i.e., representations of real, complex systems that enable decision makers to predict behaviors and answer “what-if” questions. Today, construction of complex empirical models is largely a manual process requiring a team of subject matter experts and data scientists. More
Deep Purple aims to advance the modeling of complex dynamic systems using new information-efficient approaches that make optimal use of data and known physics at multiple scales. The program is investigating next-generation deep learning approaches that use not only high throughput multimodal scientific data from observations and controlled experiments (including behaviors such as phase transitions and chaos), but also of the known science of such systems at whatever scales it exists. More
The space domain is essential to modern commerce, scientific discovery, and national defense. Maintaining space domain awareness in cislunar space – the volume of space between the Earth and the Moon – will require a leap-ahead in propulsion technology. More
| Space |
The DoD requires timely and comprehensive threat detection to support overall readiness, counter the spread of disease, and promote stabilization missions. State of the art diagnostic and biosurveillance systems are unable to keep pace with disease outbreaks and fail to support decision-making at the time and place of need. The “Detect It with Gene Editing Technologies” (DIGET) program aims to leverage advances in gene editing technologies to develop field-forward diagnostic and biosurveillance technologies that enable detection of any threat, anytime, anywhere. More
The Dialysis-Like Therapeutics (DLT) program aims to support force protection and military readiness by improving critical care in low-resource environments and delivering a new tool for rapid response to emerging infectious disease threats. DLT specifically addresses a life-threatening blood infection known as sepsis, but DARPA is working to expand the DLT technology to also mitigate threats from harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi, and toxic agents in the blood. More
The Digital RF Battlespace Emulator (DRBE) program aims to create the world’s first, large-scale, virtual RF environment for developing, training, and testing advanced radio frequency (RF) systems. The DRBE system will seek to enable numerous RF systems such as radar and electronic warfare (EW) systems to interact with each other in a fully closed-loop RF environment. More
The Direct On-Chip Digital Optical Synthesizer (DODOS) program seeks to create a technological revolution in optical frequency control analogous to the disruptive advances in microwave frequency control in the 1940s. More
Conventional analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) are fundamentally limited by timing jitter in the sampling source, forcing a trade-off between bandwidth and resolution. As a result, radio frequency (RF) systems are typically designed with narrow-bandwidth channels. These engineering constraints present problems when faced with broadband signals and ultra-short pulses. At high carrier frequencies, RF systems are further limited by the tuner that must mix down to baseband for electronic digitization. More
In the current art, users with significant computing requirements have typically depended on access to large, highly shared data centers to which they backhaul their data (e.g., images, video, or network log files) for processing. However, in many operational scenarios, the cost and latency of this backhaul can be problematic, especially when network throughput is severely limited or when the user application requires a near real-time response. In such cases, users’ ability to leverage computing power that is available “locally” (in the sense of latency, available throughput, or similar measures that are relevant to the user or mission) could substantially improve application performance while reducing mission risk. More
As commercial technologies become more advanced and widely available, adversaries are rapidly developing capabilities that put our forces at risk. To counter these threats, the U.S. military is developing systems-of-systems concepts in which networks of manned and unmanned platforms, weapons, sensors, and electronic warfare systems interact over robust satellite and tactical communications links. These approaches offer flexible and powerful options to the warfighter, but the complexity introduced by the increase in the number of employment alternatives creates a battle management challenge. More
Complex Defense systems, such as RADAR, communications, imaging and sensing systems rely on a wide variety of microsystems devices and materials. These diverse devices and materials typically require different substrates and different processing technologies, preventing the integration of these devices into single fabrication process flows. Thus, integration of these device technologies has historically occurred only at the chip-to-chip level, which introduces significant bandwidth and latency-related performance limitations on these systems, as well as increased size, weight, power, and packaging/assembly costs as compared to microsystems fully integrated on a single chip. More
The general-purpose computer has remained the dominant computing architecture for the last 50 years, driven largely by the relentless pace of Moore’s Law. As this trajectory shows signs of slowing, however, it has become increasingly more challenging to achieve performance gains from generalized hardware, setting the stage for a resurgence in specialized architectures. Today’s specialized, application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) — hardware customized for a specific application — offer limited flexibility and are costly to design, fabricate, and program. More
DRINQS is a fundamental science program that aims to investigate a recent paradigm shift in quantum research, which maintains that periodically driving a system out of equilibrium may increase the length of time that its quantum state endures. DRINQS aims to investigate this phenomenon and demonstrate significant gains over conventional states in timekeeping, field sensing, and information processing for use in national security applications. More
| Materials | PNT |
The Dynamic Network Adaptation for Mission Optimization (DyNAMO) program is developing and testing technologies that enable adaptive, mission-responsive networking among diverse platforms in contested environments. More
Over the past decade, DARPA’s investments in the advancement of Gallium Nitride (GaN) technology have helped enable the delivery of high power radio frequency (RF) signals at higher frequencies, bandwidths, and efficiencies. Today, however, a growing number of commercial and military components – from everyday smartphones to RF jammers – are generating a vast amount of RF signals, which is creating an increasingly crowded electromagnetic environment and a need to utilize higher operating frequencies – moving up to millimeter wave (mmW) frequencies. More
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
Next-generation military microsystems in areas such as radar, guidance and high-data-rate communications will require advances in integrated circuit (IC) technology. The technical goal of the Efficient Linearized All-Silicon Transmitter ICs (ELASTx) program, now in its final states, has been to develop monolithic, high power-added-efficiency (PAE), high-linearity, millimeter-wave, silicon-based transmitter ICs. 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
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
Today’s network subsystems are a major performance bottleneck on the paths that interconnect multiprocessor servers. In comparison with processing speeds, parallelization, and storage speed-ups, the capacity of network links has relatively worsened over time, and to a dramatic extent. This bottleneck has remained unaddressed due to commercial incentives focused on incremental technology advances across multiple, independent market siloes in network and server technology. This has made network interface cards (NICs), which bridge the network/server boundary, an afterthought in both technology marketplaces. More
Military service members experience an increased lifetime risk of neuropsychiatric conditions, such as depression, post-traumatic stress, and substance abuse. These conditions are substantially more prevalent in both the active duty population and veterans relative to civilians. 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
The Gamebreaker program seeks to develop and apply Artificial Intelligence (AI) to existing open-world video games to quantitatively assess game balance, identify parameters that significantly contribute to balance, and explore new capabilities, tactics, and rule modifications that are most destabilizing to the game. More
Scientific imagination is critical to our economy as well as our national security and defense. Research and development, as an expression of scientific imagination, is now a global and intensely competitive enterprise. This competition is heightened by digital and network disruptors that increase the speed and extend the borders of idea exchange affecting the nature and spread of threats and opportunities. Organizations fundamentally based on shaping the future need to leverage every possible advantage to succeed in this environment. More
The Gamma Ray Inspection Technology (GRIT) program seeks transformational approaches to achieving high-intensity, tunable, and narrow-bandwidth gamma ray production, but in a compact form factor suitable for transporting the source to where the capability is needed. More
The Geospatial Cloud Analytics (GCA) program is developing technology to rapidly access the most up-to-date commercial and open-source satellite imagery, as well as automated machine learning tools to analyze this data. Current approaches to geospatial analysis are ad hoc and time intensive, as they require gathering and curating data from a large number of available sources, downloading the data to specific locations, and running it through separate suites of analytics tools. More
The Glide Breaker program began in 2018 to develop and demonstrate technologies to enable defense against hypersonic systems. More
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For decades, U.S. military air operations have relied on increasingly capable multi-function manned aircraft to execute critical combat and non-combat missions. Adversaries’ abilities to detect and engage those aircraft from longer ranges have improved over time as well, however, driving up the costs for vehicle design, operation and replacement. An ability to send large numbers of small unmanned air systems (UASs) with coordinated, distributed capabilities could provide U.S. forces with improved operational flexibility at much lower cost than is possible with today’s expensive, all-in-one platforms—especially if those unmanned systems could be retrieved for reuse while airborne. More
The social sciences can play important roles in assisting military planners and decision-makers who are trying to understand complex human social behaviors and systems, potentially facilitating a wide range of missions including humanitarian, stability, and counter-insurgency operations. Current social science approaches to studying behavior rely on a variety of modeling methods—both qualitative and quantitative—which seek to make inferences about the causes of social phenomena on the basis of observations in the real-world. Yet little is known about how accurate these methods and models really are, let alone whether the connections they observe and predict are truly matters of cause and effect or mere correlations. More
Modern computing systems are incapable of creating sufficient security protections such that they can be trusted with the most sensitive data while simultaneously being exposed to untrusted data streams. In certain places, the Department of Defense (DoD) and commercial industry have adopted a series of air-gaps – or breaks between computing systems – to prevent the leakage and compromise of sensitive information. More
The growing sophistication and ubiquity of machine learning (ML) components in advanced systems dramatically expands capabilities, but also increases the potential for new vulnerabilities. Current research on adversarial AI focuses on approaches where imperceptible perturbations to ML inputs could deceive an ML classifier, altering its response. More
What is opaque to outsiders is often obvious – even if implicit – to locals. Habitus aims to capture and make local knowledge available to military operators, providing them with an insider view to support decision making. More
With a focus on wounded warriors and facilitating their return to military service, the Hand Proprioception and Touch Interfaces (HAPTIX) program is pursuing key technologies to enable precision control of and sensory feedback from sensor-equipped upper-limb prosthetic devices. If successful, the resulting system would provide users near-natural control of prosthetic hands and arms via bi-directional peripheral nerve implants. The program has a strong focus on technology handoff and aims to create and transition clinically relevant technology in support of wounded warriors suffering from single or multiple limb loss. More
Malicious actors are currently able to compromise and use with impunity large numbers of devices owned and operated by third parties. Such collections of compromised and conscripted devices, commonly referred to as botnets, are used for criminal, espionage, and computer network attack purposes (often a combination of all three). Recent examples of botnets and similar malicious code include Mirai, Hidden Cobra, WannaCry, and Petya/NotPetya More
Microbial infections are a problem of particular concern to the Department of Defense (DoD). The DoD has long recognized the warfighter’s outsized risk of exposure to infectious disease, including the rise of antimicrobial resistant (AMR) and multidrug resistant (MDR) pathogens that have challenged military wound care in Iraq and Afghanistan. Furthermore, the responsibility of the DoD to protect the homeland encompasses biological threat agents, including bacterial threats, for which effective countermeasures are critical. More
Social media, sensor feeds, and scientific studies generate large amounts of valuable data. However, understanding the relationships among this data can be challenging. Graph analytics has emerged as an approach by which analysts can efficiently examine the structure of the large networks produced from these data sources and draw conclusions from the observed patterns. More
The effectiveness of combat operations across all domains increasingly depends on our ability to control and exploit the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum and to deny its use to our adversaries. Below 30 GHz, the proliferation of inexpensive high-power commercial radio frequency (RF) sources has made the EM spectrum crowded and contested, challenging our spectrum dominance. The numerous tactical advantages offered by operating at higher frequencies, most notably the wide bandwidths available, is driving both commercial and DoD solid-state and vacuum electronic amplifiers into the millimeter wave (mm-wave) spectrum above 30 GHz. More
The Hunter program seeks to develop an innovative concept for the delivery of advanced undersea payloads from extra-large unmanned underwater vehicles (XLUUVs). The Hunter program will be executed in phases. Phase 1 seeks to design and build the payload delivery device to fit inside a government-provided payload module. Phases 2 and 3 aim to support integration of the payload delivery device into the XLUUV and perform testing. More
Modern networks and platforms rely on access to the radio frequency (RF) spectrum for communications, radar sensing, command and control, time transfer, and geo-location. Electromagnetic interference, due to congestion in the spectrum or malicious jamming, can have catastrophic effects. Countering such interference is particularly important for unmanned platforms. To address this challenge, the Hyper-wideband Enabled RF Messaging (HERMES) program seeks to provide an assured link for essential communications by developing a jammer- countering capability that is orders of magnitude beyond the state-of-the-art. 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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ITA3 will determine the practical and fundamental limits to imaging using low frequency electromagnetic waves. More
The proliferation of low cost, highly sophisticated commercial technology and the global access to knowledge about how to construct and apply these systems has narrowed the divide and placed sophisticated systems and capabilities in the hands of hobbyists across the world. The DARPA Improv program investigated the threat posed by commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) devices. More
The Insect Allies program is pursuing scalable, readily deployable, and generalizable countermeasures against potential natural and engineered threats to the food supply with the goals of preserving the U.S. crop system. National security can be quickly jeopardized by naturally occurring threats to the crop system, including pathogens, drought, flooding, and frost, but especially by threats introduced by state or non-state actors. Insect Allies seeks to mitigate the impact of these incursions by applying targeted therapies to mature plants with effects that are expressed at relevant timescales—namely, within a single growing season. More
Next-generation intelligent systems supporting Department of Defense (DoD) applications like artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, shared spectrum communication, electronic warfare, and radar require processing efficiency that is orders of magnitude beyond what is available through current commercial electronics. Reaching the performance levels required by these DoD applications however will require developing highly complex system-on-chip (SoC) platforms that leverage the most advanced integrated circuit technologies. More
The Intelligent Neural Interfaces (INI) program seeks to establish “Third-Wave” artificial intelligence methods to improve and expand the application space of next-generation neurotechnology. More
Managing complexity is a central problem in software engineering. A common approach to address this challenge is concretization, in which a software engineer makes decisions based on a set of apparently or almost equivalent options to enable the resulting code to compile. Concretization makes the process of software development more controllable, allowing the engineer to define and implement an architecture, divide the development tasks into manageable parts, establish conventions to enable their integration, and integrate them into a cohesive software system. More
Viral pathogens pose a continuous and shifting biological threat to military readiness and national security overall in the form of infectious disease with pandemic potential. Today’s limited vaccines and other antivirals are often circumvented by quickly mutating viruses that evolve to develop resistance to treatments that are carefully formulated to act only specific strains of a virus. More
Autonomous and semi-autonomous systems need active illumination to navigate at night or underground. Switching on visible headlights or some other emitting system like lidar, however, has a significant drawback: It allows adversaries to detect a vehicle’s presence, in some cases from long distances away. More
Due to engineering limitations and cost constraints, the dynamics of the electronic industry are continually changing. Commercial companies increasingly recognize the need to differentiate their products through research in areas other than device scaling, such as new circuit architectures and computing algorithms. More
Rapid comprehension of world events is essential for informing U.S. national security - a task that becomes more difficult as the amount of unstructured, multimedia information grows exponentially. Humans make sense of events by organizing them into narrative structures that occur frequently. These structures are abstracted into schemas, which are organized units of knowledge that represent a pattern of memory used in human cognition. More
The Lagrange program seeks to develop new mathematical approaches to optimization problems in uncertain, dynamic, multiscale, and high-dimensional settings. By bridging methodologies developed for both discrete and continuous optimizations, Lagrange aims to enable solutions for complex, realistic problems that involve dynamic environments, rapidly changing requirements, and increasing or decreasing amounts of information. More
In supervised machine learning (ML), the ML system learns by example to recognize things, such as objects in images or speech. Humans provide these examples to ML systems during their training in the form of labeled data. With enough labeled data, we can generally build accurate pattern recognition models. More
LADS will develop a new protection paradigm that separates security-monitoring functionality from the protected system, focusing on low-resource, embedded and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The program will explore technologies to associate the running state of a device with its involuntary analog emissions across different physical modalities including, but not limited to, electromagnetic emissions, acoustic emanations, power fluctuations and thermal output variations. More
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
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
Unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs) that operate for extended durations without the need for human-present logistic support or maintenance offer the potential for persistent operations in forward environments. Such systems could allow traditional host vessels increased freedom of operational flexibility while providing traditional servicing ports with relief of workload. More
The Materials Architectures and Characterization for Hypersonics (MACH) program aims to develop and demonstrate new materials architectures for sharp, shape-stable, cooled leading edges for hypersonic vehicles. The program will investigate innovative approaches that enable revolutionary advances in the materials, design and implementation of shape-stable, high heat flux capable leading edge systems. More
Transductional materials convert energy between different forms or domains, such as thermal to electrical energy, or electric field to magnetic field. More
Whereas the tools and weapons that are used by our warfighters have evolved dramatically in the past few decades, the way in which the warfighter is prepared has not kept pace with those developments. The Measuring Biological Aptitude (MBA) program aims to address the need for a more capable fighting force by helping individual warfighters identify, measure, and track personalized biomarkers related to training and peak performance for specialized roles. If the program succeeds, MBA technologies will give warfighters the ability to understand the underlying biological processes that govern their performance. More
Historically, the U.S. Government deployed and operated a variety of collection systems that provided imagery with assured integrity. In recent years however, consumer imaging technology (digital cameras, mobile phones, etc.) has become ubiquitous, allowing people the world over to take and share images and video instantaneously. More
The Microphysiological Systems (MPS) program supports military readiness by enabling timely evaluation of the safety and efficacy of novel medical countermeasures against a wide range of natural and man-made health threats, including emerging infectious disease and chemical or biological attack. Testing these types of countermeasures is particularly challenging using current methods because it is often both unethical and impractical to evaluate countermeasures using human clinical trials. Instead, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must base its determination of efficacy and toxicity on data from animal studies, despite the fact that animal models have limited relevance to humans and poorly predict effects in humans. More
Many defense electronics are susceptible to radiation and high temperatures. Developing electronics that can withstand harsh conditions would expand the types of environments in which DoD electronics may be used. More
The MTM program aims to develop sensors and exploitation techniques capable of performing wide-area searches to detect high-value targets. Program design will provide the ability to identify high-value adversary targets and to maintain positive chain-of-custody hand-offs. More
| A2/AD | ISR | Sensors |
There is increasing interest in making broader use of the millimeter wave frequency band for communications on small mobile platforms where narrow antenna beams from small radiating apertures provide enhanced communication security. Today’s millimeter wave systems, however, are not user friendly and are designed to be platform specific, lacking interoperability and are thus reserved for only the most complex platforms. More
DARPA’s Mobile Force Protection (MFP) program focuses on a challenge of increasing concern to the U.S. military: thwarting the proliferation of small, unmanned aircraft systems. These systems – which include fixed- or rotary-wing aircraft and have numerous advantages such as portability, low cost, commercial availability, and easy upgradeability – pose a fast-evolving array of dangers for U.S. ground and maritime convoys. More
The goal of the Modeling Adversarial Activity (MAA) program is to develop mathematical and computational techniques for modeling adversarial activity for the purpose of producing high-confidence indications and warnings of efforts to acquire, fabricate, proliferate, and/or deploy weapons of mass terror (WMTs). MAA assumes that an adversary’s WMT activities will result in observable transactions. More
Free-space optics today requires a telescope, bulk lasers with mechanical beam-steering, detectors, and electronics. The Modular Optical Aperture Building Blocks (MOABB) program seeks to design all of these components into a single integrated device. In what would be deemed as the most complex electronic-photonic circuit ever fashioned, the program’s performers will work to create a wafer-scale system that is 100x smaller and lighter than conventional systems and can steer the optical beam 1,000x faster than mechanical components. More
The Molecular Informatics program brings together a collaborative interdisciplinary community to explore completely new approaches to store and process information with molecules. Chemistry offers an untapped, rich palette of molecular diversity that may yield a vast design space to enable dense data representations and highly versatile computing concepts outside of traditional digital, logic-based approaches. More
Attacks by unmanned vehicles, missiles, small planes, fast in-shore attack craft and other platforms pose a perennial, evolving and potentially lethal threat to ships and other maritime vessels. The escalating risks posed by these ever-morphing threats demand that vessels have access to defensive capabilities at the leading edge of air and surface combat technologies. In particular, current close-range gun systems would greatly benefit from an ability to engage multiple and diverse targets coming from a range of directions and do so rapidly and with high precision. More
Recent advances in our understanding of light-matter interactions, often with patterned and resonant structures, reveal nascent concepts for new interactions that may impact many applications. Examples of these novel phenomena include interactions involving active media, symmetry, non-reciprocity, and linear/nonlinear resonant coupling effects. More
Certain natural processes perform par excellence computation with levels of efficiency unmatched by classical digital models. Levinthal’s Paradox illustrates this well: In nature, proteins fold spontaneously at short timescales (milliseconds) whereas no efficient solution exists for solving protein-folding problems using digital computing. The Nature as Computer (NAC) program proposes that in nature there is synergy between dynamics and physical constraints to accomplish effective computation with minimal resources. More
State-of-the-art military sensors rely on “active electronics” to detect vibration, light, sound or other signals for situational awareness and to inform tactical planning and action. That means the sensors constantly consume power, with much of that power spent processing what often turns out to be irrelevant data. This power consumption limits sensors’ useful lifetimes to a few weeks or months with even the best batteries and has slowed the development of new sensor technologies and capabilities. The chronic need to service or redeploy power-depleted sensors is not only costly and time-consuming but also increases warfighter exposure to danger. More
The Network Universal Persistence (Network UP) program seeks to develop and demonstrate radio technology that maintains network reliability through periods of frequent signal degradation that may occur during operations in multiple environments. From time to time, network outages may occur and data transmission may be challenged. More
The Neural Engineering System Design (NESD) program seeks to develop high-resolution neurotechnology capable of mitigating the effects of injury and disease on the visual and auditory systems of military personnel. In addition to creating novel hardware and algorithms, the program conducts research to understand how various forms of neural sensing and actuation might improve restorative therapeutic outcomes. More
Military personnel control sophisticated systems, experience extraordinary stress, and are subject to injury of the brain. DARPA created the Neuro Function, Activity, Structure, and Technology (Neuro-FAST) program to begin to address these challenges by combining innovative neurotechnology with an advanced understanding of the brain. Using a multidisciplinary approach that combines data processing, mathematical modeling, and novel optical interfaces, the program seeks to open new pathways for understanding and treating brain injury, enable unprecedented visualization and decoding of brain activity, and build sophisticated tools for communicating with the brain. More
The explosive growth of global digital connectivity has opened new possibilities for designing and conducting social science research. Once limited by practical constraints to experiments involving just a few dozen participants-often university students or other easily available groups-or to correlational studies of large datasets without any opportunity for determining causation, scientists can now engage thousands of diverse volunteers online and explore an expanded range of important topics and questions. More
The Next-Generation Nonsurgical Neurotechnology (N3) program aims to develop high-performance, bi-directional brain-machine interfaces for able-bodied service members. Such interfaces would be enabling technology for diverse national security applications such as control of unmanned aerial vehicles and active cyber defense systems or teaming with computer systems to successfully multitask during complex military missions. More
The No Manning Required Ship (NOMARS) program seeks to design a ship that can operate autonomously for long durations at sea, enabling a clean-sheet ship design process that eliminates design considerations associated with crew. NOMARS focuses on exploring novel approaches to the design of the seaframe (the ship without mission systems) while accommodating representative payload size, weight, and power. More
The Nucleic acids On-demand Worldwide (NOW) program aims to develop a mobile medical countermeasure (MCM) manufacturing platform for use in stabilization and humanitarian operations to rapidly produce, formulate, and package hundreds of doses of nucleic acid therapeutics (DNA and/or RNA). More
DARPA's Oceans of Things program seeks to enable persistent maritime situational awareness over large ocean areas by deploying thousands of small, low-cost floats that form a distributed sensor network. Each smart float contains a suite of commercially available sensors to collect environmental data-such as sea surface temperature, sea state, and location - as well as activity data about commercial vessels, aircraft, and even maritime mammals moving through the area. The floats transmit data periodically via satellite to a cloud network for storage and real-time analysis. More
DARPA’s OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) program envisions future small-unit infantry forces using swarms comprising upwards of 250 small unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) and/or small unmanned ground systems (UGSs) to accomplish diverse missions in complex urban environments. By leveraging and combining emerging technologies in swarm autonomy and human-swarm teaming, the program seeks to enable rapid development and deployment of breakthrough capabilities. More
5G is the latest in a series of evolutions in public mobile networking, with widespread coverage and access on a subscription basis. 5G networks are characterized by improved capabilities across a variety of measures, including throughputs, latencies, numbers of devices, and battery life. 5G is used to attach small special purpose devices comprising the Internet of Things (IoT) to the Internet, and the important and growing number of services provided by the World Wide Web. More
The goal of the Operational Fires (OpFires) program is to develop and demonstrate a novel ground-launched system enabling hypersonic boost glide weapons to penetrate modern enemy air defenses and rapidly and precisely engage critical time sensitive targets. More
| Ground |
The Optimization with Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum devices (ONISQ) program aims to exploit quantum information processing before fully fault-tolerant quantum computers are realized. This effort will pursue a hybrid concept that combines intermediate-sized quantum devices with classical systems to solve a particularly challenging set of problems known as combinatorial optimization. ONISQ seeks to demonstrate the quantitative advantage of quantum information processing by leapfrogging the performance of classical-only systems in solving optimization challenges. More
Panacea is a fundamental research program designed to provide novel, multi-target therapeutics that address under-met physiological needs of Department of Defense operators. To do so, the program is applying a systems-pharmacology approach to address the intrinsic complexity of biological processes and unlock more of the potential drug target space in the human proteome. If it succeeds, it will yield new drugs that address some of the challenging physical demands faced by warfighters, including metabolic stress — as with prolonged exertion at high altitude — and activity-related soft tissue injury and resultant pain and inflammation. More
The Pandemic Prevention Platform (P3) program aims to support military readiness and global stability through pursuit of novel methods to dramatically accelerate discovery, integration, pre-clinical testing, and manufacturing of medical countermeasures against infectious diseases. P3 confronts the reality that Department of Defense (DoD) personnel are not only deployed around the world for routine operations, but are often among the first responders to outbreaks of emerging or re-emerging disease with pandemic potential (e.g., Ebola). P3 aims specifically to develop a scalable, adaptable, rapid response platform capable of producing relevant numbers of doses against any known or previously unknown infectious threat within 60 days of identification of such a threat in order to keep the outbreak from escalating and decrease disruptions to the military and homeland. More
The Persistent Aquatic Living Sensors (PALS) program aims to leverage biology to augment the Department of Defense’s existing, hardware-based maritime monitoring capabilities. The program will tap into marine organisms’ innate abilities to sense and respond to perturbations in their environments and apply those abilities to the detection, characterization, and reporting of manned or unmanned underwater vehicles ranging from small autonomous vessels to large nuclear submarines. More
Chemical and biological (CB) threats have become increasingly ubiquitous and diverse. They present a risk to our stability operators in pandemic outbreak scenarios, and our warfighters serving in diverse operating environments. State-of-the-art protective equipment continues to severely limit mobility and performance of the user because of a dependence upon protective garments that are thick, heavy, and cumbersome. The Personalized Protective Biosystem (PPB) program aims to reduce protective equipment needs while increasing protection against existing and future CB threats. More
Advances in digital microelectronics have enabled indispensable capabilities for the Department of Defense (DoD) in the fields of information processing, sensors, and communications. Increasingly, system performance in these domains is constrained not by the limits of computation at individual nodes, but by electrical data movement between individual chips. More
The Physics of Artificial Intelligence (PAI) program is part of a broad DAPRA initiative to develop and apply “Third Wave” AI technologies to sparse data and adversarial spoofing, and that incorporate domain-relevant knowledge through generative contextual and explanatory models. More
The unrelenting progression of Moore's Law has created a steady cadence to ever-smaller transistors and more powerful chips, allowing billions of transistors to be integrated on a single system-on-chip (SoC). However, engineering productivity has not kept pace with Moore's Law, leading to prohibitive increases in development costs and team sizes for leading-edge SoC design. To help manage the complexity of SoC development, design reuse in the form of Intellectual Property (IP) modules has become the primary strategy. More
The Precise Robust Inertial Guidance for Munitions (PRIGM) program is developing inertial sensor technologies to enable positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) in GPS-denied environments. PRIGM comprises two focus areas: development of a navigation-grade inertial measurement unit (NGIMU) based on micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) platforms, and basic research of advanced inertial micro sensor (AIMS) technologies for future gun-hard, high-bandwidth, high-dynamic-range, GPS-free navigation. More
Pathogens with pandemic potential, toxic chemicals, and radioactive materials all endanger public health and pose a threat to national security. Despite investment in the development of medical countermeasures (MCMs) to address these threats, many existing MCMs suffer from limited applicability, insufficient efficacy, requirements for repeat dosing, lengthy and complex manufacturing processes, and logistically burdensome storage requirements. In many cases, unique threats require unique responses, setting up a “one threat, one MCM” paradigm. More
United States military forces deploy to remote locations around the world, often in areas where emerging infectious diseases are common. The PREventing EMerging Pathogenic Threats (PREEMPT) program seeks to preserve military readiness by protecting against the infectious disease threat; however, rather than treating people, PREEMPT targets viral pathogens within the animal reservoirs and insect vectors where many diseases originate before they spill over into humans. More
The Prometheus program aims to improve military readiness and force health through development of a prognostic that can determine if an individual is contagious before he exhibits symptoms of illness. DARPA’s goal is to develop a molecular test for determining if an individual is likely to spread disease following exposure to an infectious agent and predict within 24 hours of exposure if that individual will become contagious. That ability to predict contagiousness would allow for specific planning and concentration of resources to prevent the spread of an illness from an individual to a population within the confined settings and close quarters typical of military operations. More
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
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
A substantial and prolonged disruption of electric power would have profound economic and human costs for the United States. From a defense perspective, a major power outage could hamper military mobilization and logistics and impair the capability to project force. More
The Rapid Threat Assessment (RTA) program aims to provide critical information to speed production of medical countermeasures to protect U.S. forces against novel chemical and biological weapons. Such weapons have historically been mass-produced within a year of discovery. Development of countermeasures, however, currently takes far longer. Using current methods and technologies, researchers require decades of study to gain a cellular-level understanding of how new threat agents exert their effects. More
Automation and artificial intelligence are revolutionizing discovery and production of functional molecules by enabling fast, reproducible experimentation and efficient property optimization. These capabilities have already made a significant impact on prevalent molecular classes, such as pharmaceuticals, but niche areas characterized by unique chemical space, limited literature precedence, and requirements for specialized experimental hardware have experienced relatively slow improvement. One such area, critical to national security, is energetics. More
Driven by the rapidly evolving national security threat landscape, future defense systems will need access to low size, weight, and power (SWaP) artificial intelligence (AI) solutions that can rapidly transition from idea to practice. In recent years, the ability to learn from large datasets has advanced significantly due to increases in hardware performance, advances in machine learning (ML) algorithms, and the availability of high quality open datasets. More
Most camera designers seek to maximize spatial resolution and signal-to-noise (SNR). A wealth of information in the optical domain, however, is lost under those constraints. Specialty cameras exist to capture other types of information, but are not normally able to provide high SNR imagery at high spatial resolution from a single focal plane, and are used infrequently due to demands of additional camera systems. Today’s imaging systems primarily perform a single or limited set of measurements due, in part, to the underlying readout integrated circuits (ROICs), which sample the signal of interest and transfer the values off of the chip. Typically, ROICs are designed for a specific mode of operation, and, in essence, are application specific integrated circuits (ASICs). More
The Resilient Anonymous Communication for Everyone (RACE) program will research technologies for a distributed messaging system that can: a) exist completely within a given network, b) provide confidentiality, integrity, and availability of messaging, and c) preserve privacy to any participant in the system. Compromised system data and associated networked communications should not be helpful for compromising any additional parts of the system. More
Military logistic support has a large human cost in contested environments with no ability to create valuable materials when and where needed. DARPA’s ReSource program aims to revolutionize how the military procures critical supplies on the battlefield by engineering self-contained, integrated systems that rapidly produce large quantities of supplies from feedstock collected on-site. Envisioned on-demand products include lubricants, adhesives, tactical fibers, potable water, and edible macronutrients. More
The Restoring Active Memory (RAM) program aims to mitigate the effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in military Service members by developing neurotechnologies to facilitate memory formation and recall in the injured brain. More than 270,000 Service members have been diagnosed with TBI since 2000. The condition frequently results in an impaired ability to retrieve memories formed prior to injury and a reduced capacity to form or retain new memories following injury. Despite the scale of the problem, few effective therapies currently exist to mitigate the long-term consequences of TBI on memory. Enabling restoration of memory function would support military readiness by providing injured personnel the option of returning to duty, and would improve quality of life for wounded veterans. More
Mosquitoes transmit pathogens that cause dengue, malaria, and other diseases that present significant risks to the readiness and resilience of military personnel, and public health more generally. The ReVector program aims to maintain the health of military personnel operating in disease-endemic regions by reducing attraction and feeding by mosquitoes. More
Conventional optical imaging systems today largely limit themselves to the measurement of light intensity, providing two-dimensional renderings of three-dimensional scenes and ignoring significant amounts of additional information that may be carried by captured light. More
Thanks to improvements in body armor and combat casualty care, military Service members are now surviving severe battlefield injuries that involve traumatic limb amputation. However, because these survivors are predominantly young, they must live with their injuries for decades. This severely diminishes affected individuals’ quality of life and places a massive responsibility on the military's medical and rehabilitation system. More
Due to advancements in component technology, microsatellite systems are increasingly viable solutions to address earth science and remote sensing missions. For example, constellations of commercial, small, optical satellites are proliferating, supporting a variety of tasks and data applications. The ability to economically launch microsatellites on diverse launch vehicles promises advantages in rapid technology refresh, responsive space operations, and resilient (i.e., redundant) systems. More
| Space |
Hundreds of military, government and commercial satellites reside today in geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) some 22,000 miles (36,000 kilometers) above the Earth—a perch ideal for providing communications, meteorology and national security services, but one so remote as to preclude inspection and diagnosis of malfunctioning components, much less upgrades or repairs. Even fully functional satellites sometimes find their working lives cut short simply because they carry obsolete payloads—a frustrating situation for owners of assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars. More
Today, code for input data validation is typically written manually in an ad-hoc manner. For commonly-used electronic data formats, input validation is, at a minimum, a problem of scale whereby specifications of these formats comprise hundreds to thousands of pages. Input validation thus translates to thousands or more conditions to be checked against the input data before the data can be safely processed. More
The Safe Genes program supports force protection and military health and readiness by protecting Service members from accidental or intentional misuse of genome editing technologies. Additional work will leverage advances in gene editing technology to expedite development of advanced prophylactic and therapeutic treatments against gene editors. Advances within the program will ensure the United States remains at the vanguard of the broadly accessible and rapidly progressing field of genome editing. More
It is easy to reverse engineer software today. An attacker generally requires no more than a basic debugger, a compiler and about a day's effort to de-obfuscate code that has been obfuscated with the best current methods. The reason for the relative ease is that program obfuscation is primarily based on "security through obscurity" strategies, typified by inserting passive junk code into a program’s source code. Existing program obfuscation methods also do not have quantifiable security models, and so it is difficult even to measure how much security is gained by a given obfuscation effort. More
Current artificial intelligence (AI) systems excel at tasks defined by rigid rules – such as mastering the board games Go and chess with proficiency surpassing world-class human players. However, AI systems aren’t very good at adapting to constantly changing conditions commonly faced by troops in the real world – from reacting to an adversary’s surprise actions, to fluctuating weather, to operating in unfamiliar terrain. More
The Sea Train program aims to demonstrate long range deployment capabilities for a distributed fleet of tactical unmanned surface vessels. The program seeks to enable extended transoceanic transit and long-range naval operations by exploiting the efficiencies of a system of connected vessels (Sea Train). More
Distributed applications are important tools for managing global enterprises as they improve both the speed and scale of decision-making, learning, and other critical functions. Virtual documents are one example of a commonly used distributed application. These provide organizations with the ability to have multiple writers and editors collaborate on document authoring in near real-time regardless of their physical locations. These critical productivity tools rely on internet-enabled, enterprise-wide communication systems to interconnect sites and create a global substrate to support their operation. More
The security of communications and information for troops operating in tactical warfighting environments is limited. At the tactical edge, end-to-end connections on secure servers are typically unreliable, negatively impacting operations and coordination with coalition partners. More
A zero-knowledge (ZK) proof is an interactive protocol between a prover and a verifier. The prover creates a statement that they want the verifier to accept, using knowledge that will remain hidden from the verifier. Recent research has substantially increased the efficiency of ZK proofs, enabling real-world use, primarily by cryptocurrencies. While useful for cryptocurrencies, the ZK proofs created are specialized for this task and do not necessarily scale for transactions that are more complex. For highly complex proof statements like those that the Department of Defense (DoD) may wish to employ, novel and more efficient approaches are needed. More
The Seeker Cost Transformation (SECTR) program seeks to develop novel weapon terminal sensing and guidance technologies and systems for air-launched, air-delivered weapons. SECTR technologies would enable weapons to acquire fixed and moving targets with only minimal external support; achieve high navigation accuracy in a GPS-denied environment; and be low size, weight, and cost. More
Media generation and manipulation technologies are advancing rapidly and purely statistical detection methods are quickly becoming insufficient for identifying falsified media assets. Detection techniques that rely on statistical fingerprints can often be fooled with limited additional resources (algorithm development, data, or compute). More
Serial Interactions in Imperfect Information Games Applied to Complex Military Decision Making (SI3-CMD) builds on recent developments in artificial intelligence and game theory to enable more effective decisions in adversarial domains. SI3-CMD will explore several military decision making applications at strategic, tactical, and operational levels and develop AI/game theory techniques appropriate for their problem characteristics. More
Partnering rescue personnel with robots to evaluate high-risk scenarios and environments can help increase the likelihood of successful search and recovery efforts while minimizing the threat to human teams. Small robotics systems could provide significant aide in these scenarios, but shrinking down these platforms requires significant advancement of the underlying technology. More
The SIGMA+ program aims to expand SIGMA’s advance capability to detect illicit radioactive and nuclear materials by developing new sensors and networks that would alert authorities to chemical, biological, and explosives threats as well. More
The electromagnetic (EM) spectrum is a scarce resource, in which a variety of friendly, unfriendly and neutral entities contend for available spectrum at any given time, location and frequency. DoD radio frequency (RF) systems, such as communication networks and radar, must operate within the context of an increasingly congested and contested electromagnetic spectrum. More
Dense constellations of low-earth-orbit (LEO) micro-satellites can provide new intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, which are persistent, survivable and available on-demand for tactical warfighting applications. The Small Satellite Sensors program seeks to explore new sensor concepts that are well-matched to the capabilities achievable in small satellites. More
In modern warfare, decisions are driven by information. That information can come in the form of thousands of sensors providing information, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) data; logistics/supply-chain and personnel performance measurements; or a host of other sources and formats. The ability to exploit this data to understand and predict the world around us is an asymmetric advantage for the Department of Defense (DoD). More
The Space Environment Exploitation (SEE) program seeks to develop new models and sensing modalities to predict and observe the dynamics of the near-earth space environment. The SEE program explores how to go beyond magnetohydrodynamic descriptions of the magnetosphere, ionosphere, thermosphere coupled system to include wave/wave, wave/particle, and particle/particle interactions while using the latest advances in high performance computing such as GPUs and TPUs. More
As new defensive technologies make old classes of vulnerability difficult to exploit successfully, adversaries move to new classes of vulnerability. Vulnerabilities based on flawed implementations of algorithms have been popular targets for many years. However, once new defensive technologies make vulnerabilities based on flawed implementations less common and more difficult to exploit, adversaries will turn their attention to vulnerabilities inherent in the algorithms themselves. More
The Global Positioning System (GPS) is the predominant means of positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) for a majority of systems and applications, both military and civilian. The Spatial, Temporal, and Orientation Information in Contested Environments (STOIC) program seeks to develop a backup PNT system that provides GPS-level and better performance without relying on GPS. More
| PNT | Spectrum |
Across the nation and around the world, the wireless revolution is fueling a voracious demand for access to the radio frequency (RF) spectrum. In the civilian sector, consumer devices from smartphones to wearable fitness recorders to smart kitchen appliances are competing for bandwidth. Managing this increasing demand, while combating what appears to be a looming scarcity of RF spectrum is a serious problem for our nation, militarily, socially, and economically. More
Modern military engagements increasingly take place in complex and uncertain battlefield conditions where attacks can come from multiple directions at once, and in the electromagnetic spectrum and cyber domains, as well. U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps dismounted infantry squads have been unable to take full advantage of some highly effective multi-domain defensive and offensive capabilities that vehicle-assigned forces currently enjoy -- in large part because many of the relevant technologies are too heavy and cumbersome for individual warfighters to carry or too difficult to use under demanding field conditions. More
The security and integrity of DoD electronic systems is challenged by the presence of counterfeit integrated circuits (ICs) in the supply chain. Counterfeiters use a variety of easy and inexpensive techniques to recycle discarded ICs, alter them, and reintroduce them to the supply chain for profit. These parts have questionable reliability and may not function as specified. The failure of a fielded DoD system due to the presence of a counterfeit IC can jeopardize the success of a mission and put lives at risk. More
Cyber physical systems (CPS) are instrumental to current and future Department of Defense (DoD) mission needs – unmanned vehicles, weapon systems, and mission platforms are all examples of military-relevant CPS. These systems and platforms integrate cyber and physical subsystems, and the enormous complexity of the resulting CPS has made their engineering design a daunting challenge. An immediate consequence of this complexity is development cycles with prolonged timelines that challenge DoD’s ability to counter emerging threats. More
The Synergistic Discovery and Design (SD2) program aims to develop data-driven methods to accelerate scientific discovery and robust design in domains that lack complete models. Engineers regularly use high-fidelity simulations to create robust designs in complex domains such as aeronautics, automobiles, and integrated circuits. In contrast, robust design remains elusive in domains such as synthetic biology, neuro-computation, and polymer chemistry due to the lack of high-fidelity models. SD2 seeks to develop tools to enable robust design despite the lack of complete scientific models. More
The SoSITE program aims to develop system of systems architectures to maintain U.S. air superiority in contested environments. More
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
Future U.S. land forces are increasingly likely to face an adversary force that is overwhelmingly superior in size and armament with formidable anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities. SESU seeks to deliver system-of-systems (SoS) capabilities that could enable a small unit (~200-300 soldiers, corresponding materiel footprint, and limited rear-echelon support) to destroy, disrupt, degrade, and/or delay the adversary's A2/AD and maneuver capabilities in order to enable joint and coalition multi-domain operations at appropriate times and locations. More
| A2/AD | BMC2 | Systems |
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
| Air |
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
Military and civilian organizations have deep interest in human performance optimization (HPO). A key challenge for optimizing human performance, however, is the “tyranny of averages:” a common experimental approach that uses between-subject outcomes and group averages (means) to make conclusions about the efficacy of a given intervention. 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
High performance mixed-signal electronics are essential to relaying analog wireless signals in the physical world with digital information for many Department of Defense (DoD) systems. The performance of these electronics directly affects overall system capabilities for defense systems that range from communications to electronic warfare (EW) and radio frequency (RF) sensors, as well as national telecommunications infrastructure applications. More
Deployed electronic systems increasingly require advanced processing capabilities, however the time and power required to access system memory – commonly referred to as the “memory bottleneck” – takes a significant toll on their performance. Any substantial improvement in electronic system performance will require a radical reduction in memory access time and overall dynamic power of the system. The use of a monolithic three-dimensional system-on-chip (SoC) stack to integrate memory and logic is one approach that could dramatically alter the memory bottleneck challenge. More
Imaging, radar, spectroscopy, and communications systems that operate in the millimeter-wave (MMW) and sub-MMW bands of the electromagnetic spectrum have been difficult to develop because of technical challenges associated with generating, detecting, processing and radiating the high-frequency signals associated with these wavelengths. More
The undersea domain imposes well-known limits on communication and therefore the capacity to transfer the right information necessary to its intended purpose. The TIMEly program aims to develop concepts for a heterogeneous underwater network architecture that enables the vision of mosaic warfare by the contemporaneous composition of effect chains from available assets in any domain, but with an emphasis on the underwater domain in order to provide options for execution on the fly. More
The Topological Excitations in Electronics program aims to demonstrate the utility of topological excitations in various applications including memory, logic, sensors, and quantum information processing. Developing the ability to design materials with new controllable functionalities is crucial for the future of the Nation’s economic, energy, and defense security. More
New manufacturing technologies such as additive manufacturing have vastly improved the ability to create shapes and material properties previously thought impossible. Generating new designs that fully exploit these properties, however, has proven extremely challenging. Conventional design technologies, representations, and algorithms are inherently constrained by outdated presumptions about material properties and manufacturing methods. As a result, today’s design technologies are simply not able to bring to fruition the enormous level of physical detail and complexity made possible with cutting-edge manufacturing capabilities and materials. More
The goal of the Underminer program is to demonstrate the feasibility of rapidly constructing tactical tunnel networks that enable secure, responsive resupply. A tactical tunnel network could provide secure logistics support infrastructure, such as pre-positioning supplies in advance of an operation or providing ongoing resupply as troops move through an area. The ability to rapidly bore tactical tunnels could be helpful in contingency operations such as rapid ammunition resupply or rescue missions. More
The Understanding Group Biases (UGB) program seeks to develop and prove out capabilities that can radically enhance the scale, speed, and scope of automated, ethnographic-like methods for capturing group biases and cultural models from increasingly available large digital datasets. More
Urban Reconnaissance through Supervised Autonomy (URSA) is a DARPA program to enable improved techniques for rapidly discriminating hostile intent and filtering out threats in complex urban environments. More
Successful integration of next generation AI into DoD applications must be able to deal with incomplete, sparse and noisy data as well as unexpected circumstances that might arise while solving real world problems. Thus, there is a need for new computing models that are efficient and robust, can learn new concepts with very few examples, and can guide the development of adequate novel hardware to support them. More
The low cost of digital imaging devices has allowed them to become ubiquitous consumer products. This low cost is made possible by leveraging a mature complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) processing infrastructure and the ability to fabricate complete focal plane arrays (FPAs) at the wafer scale. A similar trend is occurring at a smaller scale with thermal imaging technologies. Microbolometers that are sensitive in the LWIR spectrum are also manufactured at the wafer scale and the resulting cost reduction is enabling thermal imagers at consumer-grade price points. More
Currently, understanding and assessing the readiness of the warfighter involves medical intervention with the help of advanced equipment, such as electrocardiographs (EKGs) and other specialized medical devices, that are too expensive and cumbersome to employ continuously or without supervision in non-controlled environments. On the other hand, currently 92 percent of adults in the United States own a cell phone, which could be used as the basis for continuous, passive health, and readiness assessment. More
The World Modelers program aims to develop technology that integrates qualitative causal analyses with quantitative models and relevant data to provide a comprehensive understanding of complicated, dynamic national security questions. The goal is to develop approaches that can accommodate and integrate dozens of contributing models connected by thousands of pathways—orders of magnitude beyond what is possible today. More