Featured News

2020/08/07 AlphaDogfight Trials Go Virtual for Final Event

The third and final competition in DARPA’s AlphaDogfight Trials will take place virtually August 18-20 instead of in person due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Participating teams and audience members will watch online as artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms control simulated F-16 fighters in aerial combat, culminating in a matchup on August 20 between the top AI and an experienced Air Force fighter pilot flying a virtual reality F-16 simulator. “We weren’t able to host the finals at AFWERX in Las Vegas as we’d originally planned with fighter pilots from the Air Force Weapons School at nearby Nellis Air Force Base,” said Col. Dan “Animal” Javorsek, program manager in DARPA’s Strategic Technology Office. “We are still excited to see how the AI algorithms perform against each other as w...

New virtual clinic streamlines care for COVID-19 patients

Dr. Marko Mrkobrada, one of the physicians who helped create the Urgent COVID-19 Care Clinic at LHSC shows an example of an oximeter that is sent to high risk patients to help them self-monitor their oxygen levels. By Erinor Jacob-Levine Receiving a positive COVID-19 test result can be both scary and overwhelming due to the potentially serious and largely unknown consequences of the virus. To better support those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, six physicians at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) have developed a new care pathway to identify, triage, monitor, and manage the potential complications of the disease through a new virtual clinic. The LHSC Urgent COVID-19 Care Clinic is caring for patients referred from the Middlesex-London Health Unit, Emergency Department, and family ...

Better analytics, virtual visits help enhance diabetes care

By Jessica Rudd As a registered nurse who works with residents with dementia at a long-term care home in Edmonton Alberta, Karen Pliska, 55, is acutely aware of the risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to those in her care, and to herself.  Not only is she working on the front lines, she must manage her own chronic condition, Type 1 diabetes, which puts her at greater risk of more severe symptoms if she were to contract COVID-19. Like millions of Canadians living with chronic health conditions, Pliska has had to adapt to new physical distancing protocols over the past several months that put a temporary halt to in-person visits with her doctor and the medical team at her diabetes clinic. But Pliska is among the growing swell of patients who have been able to harness the power of techn...

New video virtual care project enhances care for Ontario’s tiniest patients

Katie Lavelle with husband Jeff (left) and their newborn son Edward. By Julie Dowdie and Jessica Marangos When Katie and Jeff Lavelle’s newborn son, Edward, needed to be treated for complications arising shortly after his birth, the world-class team of paediatric experts assessing him were simultaneously right by his bedside and more than 40 kilometres away. Little Edward benefited from the launch of a new Kids Health Alliance (KHA) virtual care project that allows the care team at Markham Stouffville Hospital’s (MSH) Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to consult experts at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) with the added use of video. The project introduces video capabilities between consulting physicians and nurses in MSH’s NICU and the SickKids Acute Care Transport Service (ACT...

2020/07/30 Enhancing Understanding of Legacy Code to Simplify Software Re-engineering Process

Defense and commercial systems alike are riddled with legacy software that is difficult to modernize, enhance, and re-engineer, largely due to a lack of effective understanding of the underlying legacy code, which makes predicting the effect of modifications a challenge. From a defense perspective, there is a growing need to enhance or replace components of existing software in critical platforms and systems with more secure and performant code, as well as a desire to use legacy software on new hardware to improve system performance. When introducing enhancements or replacements into large legacy code bases however, there is a high risk that the new code will not safely compose with the rest of the system. Existing means of verifying that updated software is correct-by-construction focus o...

2020/07/28 Miniature Telescope Demonstration Focuses on Sharpening View of Distant Objects in Space

A recently deployed DARPA CubeSat seeks to demonstrate technology that could improve imaging of distant objects in space and allow powerful space telescopes to fit into small satellites. DARPA’s Deformable Mirror (DeMi) CubeSat deployed from the International Space Station July 13, beginning the technology demonstration of a miniature space telescope with a small deformable mirror called a microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) mirror. DeMi made first contact about a week following launch, demonstrating the expected power from its solar arrays, as well as correct spacecraft pointing and stable temperatures. The team will focus on payload checkout over the coming days. Deformable mirrors can adjust the shape of their reflective surfaces to correct for the effects of temperature and mechanica...

2020/07/24 Subterranean Challenge Pivots to All-Virtual Competition for Cave Circuit

DARPA’s Subterranean (SubT) Challenge focuses on discovering innovative approaches to map, navigate, and search complex underground environments across three diverse subdomains: human-made tunnels, urban underground, and natural cave systems. Two previous scored events – Tunnel and Urban Circuits – featured both Virtual and Systems Competitions. DARPA has made the difficult decision to proceed only with the Virtual Competition for the Cave Circuit, due to safety considerations surrounding COVID-19. The date for the Cave Circuit Virtual Competition webcast/public event will be announced in the coming weeks. Teams must qualify by a September 15 deadline to participate in the Cave Circuit Virtual Competition, which includes team registration and registration on the SubT Challenge Virtual Port...

2020/07/20 DARPA Awards Contracts for New X-Plane Program Based on Active Flow Control

DARPA has selected three performers to work on the Control of Revolutionary Aircraft with Novel Effectors (CRANE) program, which aims to demonstrate an aircraft design based on active flow control (AFC), an area not fully explored compared to traditional flight controls. The goal is to demonstrate significant efficiency benefits of AFC, as well as improvements in aircraft cost, weight, performance, and reliability. “The performers are looking at using active flow control very early in the design scope. That’s the differentiating piece that hasn’t been done before,” said Alexander Walan, the program manager for CRANE in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office. “AFC has been explored at a component level, but not as an integral piece of aircraft design. By altering the design approach, CRANE seek...

2020/07/17 Parts Come Together This Year for DARPA’s Robotic In-Space Mechanic

Eyeing a launch in 2023, DARPA’s Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) program will focus the remainder of this year on completing the elements of the robotic payload. The objective of RSGS is to create an operational dexterous robotic capability to repair satellites in geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO), extending satellite life spans, enhancing resilience, and improving reliability for the current U.S. space infrastructure. Earlier this year, DARPA partnered with Space Logistics LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Northrop Grumman, to provide the spacecraft bus, launch, and operations of the integrated spacecraft. DARPA will provide the payload that flies on the bus, including the robotic arms, through an agreement with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). In 2021, NRL w...

2020/07/15 DARPA FETT Bug Bounty Goes Live

DARPA today announced that its first bug bounty program–Finding Exploits to Thwart Tampering (FETT)–has opened its virtual doors to a community of ethical hackers and cybersecurity researchers to uncover potential weaknesses within novel secure processors in development on the System Security Integration Through Hardware and Firmware (SSITH) program. DARPA has partnered with the Department of Defense’s Defense Digital Service (DDS) and Synack, a trusted crowdsourced security company on this effort. FETT is utilizing Synack’s existing community of vetted ethical researchers called the Synack Red Team (SRT), artificial intelligence and machine learning enabled technology, as well as their crowdsourced security testing platform to execute the security engagement. The goal is to enable the res...

2020/07/07 Episode 30: The Sensor Sorcerer

Episode 30: The Sensor Sorcerer In this episode of the Voices from DARPA podcast, Dr. John Burke, a program manager since 2017 in the agency’s Microsystems Technology Office (MTO), goes deep, quantum-mechanics deep. The miniaturized, affordable, and ultrastable atomic clocks he hopes to make possible would kick in if the GPS system were to go down due to natural or adversarial actions. Such clocks could keep the military machine viable while also preserving or even enhancing the operation of civilian must-haves ranging from financial transactions to ridesharing (think Uber and Lyft). Burke has teams of researchers pursuing magnificently sensitive magnetometers for detecting objects, materials, and activities otherwise hidden underground, underwater, or behind bone. Among these sensors’ pot...

2020/06/18 Compact Optical Frequency Combs Provide Extraordinary Precision with the Turn of a Key

Optical frequency synthesizers – systems that output laser beams at precise and stable frequencies – have proven extremely valuable in a variety of scientific endeavors, including space exploration, gas sensing, control of quantum systems, and high-precision light detection and ranging (LIDAR). While they provide unprecedented performance, the use of optical frequency synthesizers has largely been limited to laboratory settings due to the cost, size, and power requirements of their components. To reduce these obstacles to widespread use, DARPA launched the Direct On-Chip Digital Optical Synthesizer (DODOS) program in 2014. Key to the program is the miniaturization of necessary components and their integration into a compact module, enabling broader deployment of the technology while unlock...