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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  ...

2020/06/09 Long-range Communications without Large, Power-Hungry Antennas

Establishing long-range tactical communications for U.S. troops in remote locations currently requires giant parabolic dishes, tall pole-mounted antennas, large antenna domes, and high-power amplifiers. Besides their significant weight, power, and cost (SWAP-C), these antennas present large visual and radio frequency (RF) signatures, are vulnerable to jamming, and constitute a single point of failure. To break this dependence on big antennas and amplifiers, DARPA recently announced the Resilient Networked Distributed Mosaic Communications (RN DMC) program. RN DMC aims to provide long-range communications through “mosaic” antennas composed of spatially distributed low SWaP-C transceiver elements or “tiles.” This approach replaces high-powered amplifiers and large directional antennas with m...

National poll shows Canadians are overwhelmingly satisfied with virtual healthcare

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) released a national poll  showing that Canadians are embracing virtual care options and would like to see them not only continued after the COVID-19 crisis subsides but improved and expanded in the future. The national poll conducted by Abacus Data between the 14th and 17th of May 2020 found that almost half of all Canadians have now accessed a physician using virtual care options and they are highly satisfied with the results. Those who connected with their doctor virtually during COVID-19 report a 91% satisfaction rate – 17 points higher than in-person emergency room visits. Moving forward, almost half (46%) of Canadians who had the opportunity to use virtual care since the pandemic outbreak would prefer a virtual method as a first point of con...

2020/06/08 DARPA Announces First Bug Bounty Program to Hack SSITH Hardware Defenses

Electronic systems – from the processors powering smartphones to the embedded devices keeping the Internet of Things humming – have become a critical part of daily life. The security of these systems is of paramount importance to the Department of Defense (DoD), commercial industry, and beyond. To help protect these systems from common means of exploitation, DARPA launched the System Security Integration Through Hardware and Firmware (SSITH) program in 2017. Instead of relying on patches to ensure the safety of our software applications, SSITH seeks to address the underlying hardware vulnerabilities at the source. Research teams are developing hardware security architectures and tools that protect electronic systems against common classes of hardware vulnerabilities exploited through softw...

2020/05/29 DARPA Selects Teams for Work on Tunable Gamma Ray Inspection Technology

Two California companies were selected for DARPA’s Gamma Ray Inspection Technology (GRIT) program and have begun work to develop a transportable, tunable source of gamma rays for a host of national security, industrial, and medical applications. Lumitron Technologies and RadiaBeam Technologies started work on the GRIT program in April and are exploring novel approaches to achieve high-intensity, tunable, and narrow-bandwidth sources of gamma ray radiation in a compact, transportable form factor. GRIT aims to provide a source of tunable, pure x-rays and gamma rays from tens of keV (kilo-electron volts) up through three MeV (mega-electron volts). Currently, tunable and narrow bandwidth gamma ray sources only exist at highly specialized user facilities best suited for basic research and are n...

2020/05/27 DARPA Selects Teams to Increase Security of Semiconductor Supply Chain

As Internet of Things (IoT) devices rapidly increase in popularity and deployment, economic attackers and nation-states alike are shifting their attention to the vulnerabilities of digital integrated circuit (IC) chips. Threats to IC chips are well known, and despite various measures designed to mitigate them, hardware developers have largely been slow to implement security solutions due to limited expertise, high cost and complexity, and lack of security-oriented design tools integrated with supporting semiconductor intellectual property (IP). Further, when unsecure circuits are used in critical systems, the lack of embedded countermeasures exposes them to exploitation. To address the growing threat this poses from an economic and national security perspective, DARPA developed the Automat...

Robotics transactions continue to slow in April 2020, but bright spots remain

Although the COVID-19 pandemic began late last year in China and started affecting the global economy in March, it was April 2020 when the U.S. shut down as governments scrambled to contain the infection and its economic aftershocks. However, investment and mergers and acquisition continued to benefit automation for healthcare, cleaning, and supply chain applications. Robotics Business Review tracked about 26 transactions worth a total of more than $600 million last month, compared with 29 deals worth $2.7 billion in March 2020 and 30 transactions worth $6.5 billion in April 2019. However, there were no reported shutdowns, even as driverless car testing, startup activity, and technology conferences faltered. According to ABI Research, 2019 was a record year for robotics, with $49 billion i...

Adapting practices to protect expecting parents, newborns

Dr. Tali Bogler . Photo credit: Unity Health Toronto By Emily Dawson Across Canada and around the globe, physicians and health care professionals are rapidly adapting practices as they look to find effective ways to deliver care while minimizing the risk of contracting COVID-19 for patients and health care providers. To help keep regular pre- and post-natal care and routine well-child visits on track, Dr. Tali Bogler came up with an alternative to the typical schedule to keep these patients safe during the pandemic. “Pregnant women, newborns, and children due for vaccinations still require care during the pandemic. Given the need to reduce the number of visits…the timing and frequency of visits can be adjusted,” the physician in St. Michael’s Family Health Team (FHT) and Chair of Family Pr...