Featured News

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...

2020/06/17 DARPA Announces Third-Annual Electronics Resurgence Initiative Summit & MTO Symposium

From August 18-20, DARPA will host its third Electronics Resurgence Initiative (ERI) Summit and Microsystems Technology Office (MTO) Symposium. The annual event brings together leaders from across the electronics ecosystem – spanning government, defense, academia, and industry – to foster collaboration and share technical progress on DARPA’s five-year, $1.5 billion dollar investment into the advancement of the U.S. semiconductor industry. To ensure the health and safety of the more than 1,000 expected attendees, the 2020 Summit will be hosted on a world-class, immersive, and entirely virtual platform with built-in features for live presentations, online interaction, exhibits, and networking. The 2020 Summit will emphasize ongoing and potential transition opportunities for DARPA technologie...

2020/06/12 DARPA Program Seeks to Develop Novel Therapeutics for Combating Microbial Infections

Antibiotic resistance is on the rise and is recognized by both the CDC1 and the U.S. Military2 as a current – and formidable – global health threat. The U.S Department of Defense (DoD) has long documented the warfighter’s outsized risk of exposure to infectious disease, including the increasing number of multi-drug resistant (MDR) organisms that have challenged military wound care in Iraq and Afghanistan3. Despite this looming crisis, there has been a notable exodus of pharmaceutical companies from the antibiotic space, as well as several high-profile failures of biotechnology companies focused on antibiotic development4. Current therapeutics to combat microbial infections, including MDR microbes and bacterial biothreats, are insufficient to meet the growing need, and existing methods to d...

2020/06/11 Episode 28: Swarm Commander

In this episode of the Voices from DARPA podcast, Dr. Timothy Chung, a program manager since 2016 in the agency’s Tactical Technology Office, delves into his robotics and autonomous technology programs – the Subterranean (SubT) Challenge and OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET). From robot soccer to live-fly experimentation programs involving dozens of unmanned aircraft systems (UASs), he explains how he aims to assist humans heading into unknown environments via advances in collaborative autonomy and robotics. The SubT Challenge focuses on the underground – human-made tunnels, the urban underground, and natural cave networks. Teams from around the world vie for prizes via Systems (physical) and Virtual competitions, with air and ground platforms attempting to rapidly map, navigate, an...

Coping with COVID-19

How Microsoft technologies are enhancing hospitals’ response This year, the unprecedented arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic forced healthcare organizations to up their intelligence game – quickly. As part of that response, Microsoft technology is providing Canadian healthcare organizations with  information solutions that allow for safety, better experiences, health insights, and virtual care. “Microsoft realizes healthcare leaders are under tremendous pressures to respond to the crisis of COVID-19 – to keep frontline workers safe, support the reduction of the community spread, and provide unprecedented emergency care response and capacity for those who contract the disease,” says Lisa Carroll, Microsoft Canada’s Canadian Public Sector Lead.  “It is crucial for them to have  ...