Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyTagged Content List

Size, Weight and Power Constraints

Making technologies smaller, lighter and more power-efficient to increase military effectiveness

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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.
Unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) have inherent operational and tactical advantages such as stealth and surprise. UUV size, weight and volume are constrained by the handling, launch and recovery systems on their host platforms, however, and UUV range is limited by the amount of energy available for propulsion and the power required for a given underwater speed. Current state-of-the-art energy sources are limited by safety and certification requirements for host platforms.
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.
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.
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.