Department of Defense
DARPA has selected multiple teams of researchers for the agency's Automating Scientific Knowledge Extraction and Modeling (ASKEM) program. ASKEM performers will use artificial intelligence (AI) approaches and tools to create, sustain, and enhance complex models and simulators.
For this episode of the Voices from DARPA podcast, we spoke with Dr. Joeanna Arthur who joined DARPA in August 2022 as a program manager, or PM, in the Biological Technologies Office. Her research interests include operational neuroscience, human performance optimization and predictive analytics, leveraging advances in cognitive and behavioral science.
DARPA's Environment-driven Conceptual Learning (ECOLE) program aims to radically improve artificial intelligence (AI) agents by teaching them to continually learning from linguistic and visual input. The goal is to enable human-machine collaborative analysis of image, video, and multimedia documents during time-sensitive, mission-critical DOD analytic tasks where reliability and robustness are essential.
Teams involved in DARPA's Robotic Autonomy in Complex Environments with Resiliency (RACER) program have one experiment under their belts and will focus on even more difficult off-road landscapes at Camp Roberts, California, September 15-27. The program aims to give driverless combat vehicles off-road autonomy while traveling at speeds that keep pace with those driven by people in realistic situations.
The Department of Defense (DOD) seeks innovative and creative solutions to complex, classified challenges, but the DOD is currently only able to access a limited pool of companies cleared to work on them. Companies must have a facility clearance and their employees must hold security clearances to do classified work. But for a company to have a facility clearance, it must have a contract requiring classified work to justify the clearance. This current model results in a cyclical pattern that precludes the injection of new companies and ideas into the classified DOD research and development ecosystem.
DARPA's AdvaNced airCraft Infrastructure-Less Launch And RecoverY X-Plane program, nicknamed ANCILLARY, aims to develop and flight demonstrate critical technologies required for a leap ahead in vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL), low-weight, high-payload, and long-endurance capabilities. The goal is to build a plane that can launch from ship flight decks and small austere land locations in adverse weather without launch and recovery equipment typically needed for these systems.
The infrared (IR) spectrum is a vast information landscape that modern IR detectors tap into for diverse applications such as night vision, biochemical spectroscopy, microelectronics design, and climate science. But modern sensors used in these practical areas lack spectral selectivity and must filter out noise, limiting their performance. Advanced IR sensors can achieve ultrasensitive, single-photon level detection, but these sensors must be cryogenically cooled to 4 K ( -269 C) and require large, bulky power sources making them too expensive and impractical for everyday Department of Defense or commercial use.
A new DARPA effort aims to recruit standout scientists and engineers beginning their careers for a two-year position at the agency. The DARPA Innovation Fellowship Program will select fellows to develop and manage a portfolio of high-impact, exploratory research efforts to help identify breakthrough technologies for the Department of Defense.
DARPA is moving into Phase 2 of the No Manning Required Ship (NOMARS) program, which seeks to build and demonstrate a revolutionary new medium unmanned surface vessel (MUSV) that can go to sea and perform missions with unprecedented reliability and availability, while carrying a significant payload. The agency selected Serco Inc.'s design to move forward at the conclusion of Phase 1.
DARPA's new Ice Control for cold Environments (ICE) program aims to control the physical properties of ice crystals to protect military assets and personnel for enhanced operational capabilities in extreme cold environments. ICE plans to leverage biological adaptations to cold environments to develop novel biologically sourced and inspired materials to meet this goal. Novel technologies developed via ICE will facilitate sustained operations through the development of strategies to prevent frostbite and materials for anti-icing approaches.
DARPA has selected multiple teams of researchers for the agency's Coded Visibility (CV) program. CV aims to develop tailorable, tunable, safe obscurants that provide warfighters with an asymmetric advantage, enhancing friendly forces' visibility while suppressing adversary vision and detection systems.
Amid ongoing shortages in integral semiconductor chips, new U.S. initiatives are necessary to fortify access and restore the supply chains underpinning modern communications, travel, national security, and manufacturing. However, longer-term solutions require research, development, and innovative breakthroughs that will transform future technological performance and scalability.
The United States depends on a variety of raw, non-fuel materials dubbed "critical minerals" to manufacture products considered essential to national security. These products can range from rare earth minerals in electric motors and generators, to the carbon fiber used for airplanes. Increasing demand, coupled with limited domestic supply and increasing reliance on foreign companies to import these critical minerals, poses significant risks to the U.S. supply chain.
For this 17- minute episode of the Voices from DARPA podcast, we sat down with DARPA Director, Dr. Stefanie Tompkins, to discuss the agency's upcoming DARPA Forward regional event series. Held on leading research and development campuses throughout the United States and open to all, these conferences will connect DARPA leaders with new communities of talent and partnerships.
DARPA has selected 11 teams for Phase 1 of the Space-Based Adaptive Communications Node program, known as Space-BACN. Space-BACN aims to create a low-cost, reconfigurable optical communications terminal that adapts to most optical intersatellite link standards, translating between diverse satellite constellations. Space-BACN would create an "internet" of low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, enabling seamless communication between military/government and commercial/civil satellite constellations that currently are unable to talk with each other.
The Defense Department and other federal agencies have sought advanced sources that generate gamma rays, X-rays, neutrons, protons, and electrons to enable a variety of scientific, commercial, and defense applications - from medical diagnostics, to scans of cargo containers for dangerous materials, to non-destructive testing of aircraft and their parts to see internal defects. But none of these sources can image through concrete walls several meters thick, map the core of a volcano from the outside, or peer deep underground to locate chambers and tunnels. For such imaging capabilities, a more powerful particle is needed.
In this approximately 17-minute episode of the Voices from DARPA podcast, we explore the portfolio of cryptography expert, privacy advocate, and DARPA program manager, Dr. Joshua Baron. Baron details the possibilities - and potential pitfalls - of technologies such as zero knowledge proofs and blockchains. He also provides a sneak peek into new research that will preserve one's privacy by rapidly making complex computations on a mobile device.
DARPA's Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC), a missile program conducted in partnership with the U.S. Air Force, completed another successful free flight in early July. This is the second demonstration vehicle built by Raytheon Technologies to meet test objectives. The first Raytheon flight was in September 2021. It was followed by success with a different contractor's vehicle configuration this past spring.
DARPA's Operational Fires (OpFires) program has successfully executed its first flight test at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The OpFires system achieved all test objectives, including first ever use of a U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) logistics truck as a medium-range missile launcher, missile canister egress, stable flight capture, and use of U.S. Army inventory artillery fire control systems to initiate the test mission. Lockheed Martin built the system, which includes a Northrop Grumman rocket motor, and conducted the test.
Seeking to revolutionize how the Department of Defense (DoD) objectively measures individual warfighter readiness, DARPA's newest biotechnology funding opportunity aims to develop a hand-held prediction tool for warfighter physiological states based on molecular biomarkers. The device developed under the Smart Non-invasive Assays of Physiology (SNAP) program would be readily configurable to diverse DoD needs for readiness assessment, training, and mission planning, thereby providing an individualized view into real-time warfighter performance state.