Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyTagged Content List

Size, Weight and Power Constraints

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

Showing 51 results for SWAP RSS
For decades, Global Positioning System (GPS) technology has been incorporated into vehicles and munitions to meet DoD requirements for precision guidance and navigation. GPS dependence creates a critical vulnerability for many DoD systems in situations where the GPS signal is degraded or unavailable.
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.
Military aircraft are vulnerable in conditions of degraded visibility due to pilots’ inability to discern obstacles, cables, or other aircraft during flight or while landing. The danger is particularly acute in demanding, harsh environments such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
| Air | ISR | Sensors | SWAP |
Computational capability is an enabler for nearly every military system, but increases in this capability are limited by available system power and constraints on the ability to dissipate heat. This is a challenge for embedded applications such as soldier-borne applications, UAVs and command and control systems on submarines. Today’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) systems have sensors that collect far more information than they can process in real time; as a result, what could be invaluable real-time intelligence data in the hands of our warfighters is simply discarded, or perhaps recorded and processed hours or days after it was collected.
As electronic system technology advances – with continual increases in requirements leading to increasing demand for higher power consumption – there has been increasing pressure on the thermal engineering and heat rejection technologies used. DoD systems are driving conflicting needs for high performance as well as reduced size and weight. DARPA makes many investments in new technologies that can improve performance or reduce size and weight.