Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyTagged Content List

Automation Technologies

Automatic mechanical or digital operation

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Norman A. Whitaker is a Microsoft distinguished scientist and managing director of Microsoft Research Special Projects. As head of that group, he provides a structure for projects with focused objectives aimed at altering and expanding what people imagine is possible with technology.
Mike Walker is a Principal Researcher at Microsoft working on security AI. Prior to joining Microsoft, Mike led DARPA’s Cyber Grand Challenge, a two-year $58M contest to construct & compete the first prototypes of reasoning cyberdefense AI. In 2016 at the DEF CON hacking contest, these prototypes took their first flight into the game of hackers, Capture the Flag (CTF), landing zero-day exploits and writing patches in a fully autonomous battle.
The 21st century has brought with it the ever more urgent need for automated, scalable, machine-speed vulnerability detection and patching as more and more systems—from household appliances to major military platforms—get connected to, and become dependent upon, the internet. Finding and countering bugs, hacks, and other cyber infection threats have effectively been artisanal: professional bug hunters, security coders, and other security pros work endless hours, searching millions of lines of code to find and fix vulnerabilities that those with ulterior motives can exploit. This is a sluggish process that can no longer can keep pace with the relentless stream of threats.
The DARPA Urban Challenge was held on November 3, 2007, at the former George AFB in Victorville, Calif. Building on the success of the 2004 and 2005 Grand Challenges, this event required teams to build an autonomous vehicle capable of driving in traffic, performing complex maneuvers such as merging, passing, parking, and negotiating intersections. As the day wore on, it became apparent to all that this race was going to have finishers. At 1:43 pm, “Boss”, the entry of the Carnegie Mellon Team, Tartan Racing, crossed the finish line first with a run time of just over four hours. Nineteen minutes later, Stanford University’s entry, “Junior,” crossed the finish line. It was a scene that would be repeated four more times as six robotic vehicles eventually crossed the finish line, an astounding feat for the teams and proving to the world that autonomous urban driving could become a reality. This event was groundbreaking as the first time autonomous vehicles have interacted with both manned and unmanned vehicle traffic in an urban environment.
For the more than 700 registered competitors, the journey to winning DARPA’s first FANG Challenge begins today. After months of planning and organizing into more than 150 teams, participants from across the United States will begin collaborating on mobility and drivetrain subsystem designs for the Fast Adaptable Next-Generation Ground Vehicle (FANG). At the end of the competition, DARPA plans to award a $1 million prize to the team whose design submission best achieves established requirements for performance, lead time and cost using the META design tools and the VehicleFORGE collaboration environment. The winning team will also have its design constructed as an automotive test rig in the iFAB foundry.