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2019/03/01 DARPA Modernizes Small Business Innovation Research Program

Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) are the principal set-aside programs for small business participation in federal research and development funding, yet the requirements for administering and managing these programs have not changed significantly in decades. To keep pace with discovery in science and technology worldwide, DARPA now intends to release SBIR/STTR opportunities on an out-of-cycle basis, separate from the three pre-determined announcements traditionally issued directly through the Department of Defense (DoD). The change is expected to reduce the overall time from opportunity announcement to contract award. Prior to the change, the timeline for SBIR/STTR funding opportunities was managed independently of DARPA’s primary technol...

2019/02/27 Taking the Next Step in Quantum Information Processing

Universal quantum computers with millions of quantum bits, or qubits – which can represent a one, a zero, or a coherent linear combination of one and zero – would revolutionize information processing for commercial and military applications. Realizing that vision, however, is still decades away. The problem is the performance and reliability of quantum devices depend on the length of time the underlying quantum states can remain coherent. If you wait long enough, interactions with the environment will make the state behave like a conventional classical system, removing any quantum advantage. Often, this coherence time is significantly short, which makes it difficult to perform any meaningful computations. To exploit quantum information processing before fully fault-tolerant quantum compute...

2019/02/19 A New Layer of Medical Preparedness to Combat Emerging Infectious Disease

DARPA has selected five teams of researchers to support PREventing EMerging Pathogenic Threats (PREEMPT), a 3.5-year program first announced in January 2018 to reinforce traditional medical preparedness by containing viral infectious diseases in animal reservoirs and insect vectors before they can threaten humans. Through studies in secure laboratories and simulated natural environments, the PREEMPT researchers will model how viruses might evolve within animal populations, and assess the safety and efficacy of potential interventions. Autonomous Therapeutics, Inc., Institut Pasteur, Montana State University, The Pirbright Institute, and the University of California, Davis, lead the PREEMPT teams. “DARPA challenges the PREEMPT research community to look far left on the emerging threat timel...

2019/02/15 Five Teams of Researchers Will Help DARPA Detect Undersea Activity by Analyzing Behaviors of Marine Organisms

Goliath grouper, black sea bass, and snapping shrimp, along with bioluminescent plankton and other microorganisms, are set to be the unlikely heroes of DARPA’s Persistent Aquatic Living Sensors (PALS) program. Five teams of researchers are developing new types of sensor systems that detect and record the behaviors of these marine organisms and interpret them to identify, characterize, and report on the presence of manned and unmanned underwater vehicles operating in strategic waters. This new, bio-centric PALS technology will augment the Department of Defense’s existing, hardware-based maritime monitoring systems and greatly extend the range, sensitivity, and lifetime of the military’s undersea surveillance capabilities. DARPA first announced the PALS program in February 2018 with the goal...

2019/02/14 Teaching AI Systems to Adapt to Dynamic Environments

Current AI systems excel at tasks defined by rigid rules – such as mastering the board games Go and chess with proficiency surpassing world-class human players. However, AI systems aren’t very good at adapting to constantly changing conditions commonly faced by troops in the real world – from reacting to an adversary’s surprise actions, to fluctuating weather, to operating in unfamiliar terrain. For AI systems to effectively partner with humans across a spectrum of military applications, intelligent machines need to graduate from closed-world problem solving within confined boundaries to open-world challenges characterized by fluid and novel situations. To attempt this leap, DARPA today announced the Science of Artificial Intelligence and Learning for Open-world Novelty (SAIL-ON) program. ...

2019/02/11 Architecting a New Breed of High Performance Computing for Virtual Training Environments

The testing, evaluation and training of future military systems will increasingly take place in virtual environments due to rising costs and system complexity as well as the limited availability of military ranges. Virtual simulators are already used to augment real-world training for modern fighter aircraft pilots, and they hold significant promise for addressing the rigorous demands of testing and training AI-enabled technologies. Current simulated environments, however, rely on conventional computing that is incapable of generating the computational throughput and speed to accurately replicate real-world interactions, model the scale of physical test ranges or meet the technical requirements of more complex systems. “Virtual environments could significantly aid the military by creating ...

2019/02/06 Intelligent Healing for Complex Wounds

Blast injuries, burns, and other wounds experienced by warfighters often catastrophically damage their bones, skin, and nerves, resulting in months to years of recovery for the most severe injuries and often returning imperfect results. This long and limited healing process means prolonged pain and hardship for the patient, and a drop in readiness for the military. However, DARPA believes that recent advances in biosensors, actuators, and artificial intelligence could be extended and integrated to dramatically improve tissue regeneration. To achieve this, the new Bioelectronics for Tissue Regeneration (BETR) program asks researchers to develop bioelectronics that closely track the progress of the wound and then stimulate healing processes in real time to optimize tissue repair and regenera...

2019/02/06 Defending Against Adversarial Artificial Intelligence

Today, machine learning (ML) is coming into its own, ready to serve mankind in a diverse array of applications – from highly efficient manufacturing, medicine and massive information analysis to self-driving transportation, and beyond. However, if misapplied, misused or subverted, ML holds the potential for great harm – this is the double-edged sword of machine learning. “Over the last decade, researchers have focused on realizing practical ML capable of accomplishing real-world tasks and making them more efficient,” said Dr. Hava Siegelmann, program manager in DARPA’s Information Innovation Office (I2O). “We’re already benefitting from that work, and rapidly incorporating ML into a number of enterprises. But, in a very real way, we’ve rushed ahead, paying little attention to vulnerabiliti...

2019/01/31 Building Trusted Human-Machine Partnerships

A key ingredient in effective teams – whether athletic, business, or military – is trust, which is based in part on mutual understanding of team members’ competence to fulfill assigned roles. When it comes to forming effective teams of humans and autonomous systems, humans need timely and accurate insights about their machine partners’ skills, experience, and reliability to trust them in dynamic environments. At present, autonomous systems cannot provide real-time feedback when changing conditions such as weather or lighting cause their competency to fluctuate. The machines’ lack of awareness of their own competence and their inability to communicate it to their human partners reduces trust and undermines team effectiveness. To help transform machines from simple tools to trusted partners,...

2019/01/22 Teams Will Test Concepts for Exploring Underground in SubT Integration Exercise

In early April, nine qualified teams will attempt to remotely navigate the dark and dirty corridors of Edgar Experimental Mine in Idaho Springs, Colorado, in preparation for the Circuits Stage of the DARPA Subterranean (SubT) Challenge later this year. The SubT Integration Exercise, known as STIX, offers teams an opportunity to try out their technologies, including robotics, sensors, and communications solutions, in a representative environment. The locations for the Circuits Stage events have not been announced. The Subterranean Challenge seeks to revolutionize how first responders and warfighters operate in human-made tunnel systems, urban underground settings, and natural cave networks that are too dangerous, dark, deep, and unknown to risk human lives. Teams are competing to develop br...

2019/01/22 Understanding Warfighter Performance from the Inside Out

A new program out of DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office could help the Department of Defense enhance and sustain military readiness both by revolutionizing how troops train, perform, and recover, and by mitigating shortages of highly qualified candidates for extremely specialized roles. The anticipated outputs of the Measuring Biological Aptitude (MBA) program are a set of biomarkers — measurable indicators of biological processes — that correspond to traits of highly effective performance in a given role, along with new tools to measure and report on those biomarkers in real time. This information will enable individual warfighters to understand and affect the underlying biological processes that govern their success. MBA technologies could improve training, team formation, mission pe...

2019/01/22 DARPA Prototype Reflectarray Antenna Offers High Performance in Small Package

DARPA’s Radio Frequency Risk Reduction Deployment Demonstration (R3D2) is set for launch in late February to space-qualify a new type of membrane reflectarray antenna. The antenna, made of a tissue-thin Kapton membrane, packs tightly for stowage during launch and then will deploy to its full size of 2.25 meters in diameter once it reaches low Earth orbit. R3D2 will monitor antenna deployment dynamics, survivability and radio frequency (RF) characteristics of a membrane antenna in low-Earth orbit. The antenna could enable multiple missions that currently require large satellites, to include high data rate communications to disadvantaged users on the ground. A successful demonstration also will help prove out a smaller, faster-to-launch and lower cost capability, allowing the Department of D...