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2019/10/04 OpFires Program Advances Technology for Upper Stage, Achieves Preliminary Design Review

DARPA’s Operational Fires (OpFires) program has reached a major program milestone, completing booster preliminary design review of an innovative two-stage tactical missile system. OpFires aims to develop and demonstrate a ground-launched hypersonic weapon system to engage critical, time-sensitive targets in contested environments. “U.S. ground-based forces currently are limited in effective range of surface-to-surface precision fires. The goal for OpFires is to provide the combatant commander with options in force deployment, and allow persistent standoff from unpredictable land-launch positions,” said Maj. Amber Walker (U.S. Army), program manager for OpFires in the Tactical Technology Office. “The envisioned ‘tuneable’ propulsion system could offer mission flexibility for ground-to-groun...

2019/09/27 DARPA Seeks Novel Urban Swarm Capabilities, Enhancements to Physical Testbeds

Cities present multiple challenges for ground units as they attempt to navigate and search tall buildings amid tight spaces with limited sight lines. DARPA’s OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) program envisions swarms of collaborative autonomous systems to provide insights to dismounted troops in urban environments. The OFFSET program is seeking proposals for its fifth swarm sprint, focused on two topics: operational swarm tactics in support of urban missions and innovative technologies to prototype and integrate into physical swarm system testbeds. [embedded content] Swarm Sprinters in either topic in the fifth swarm sprint will integrate their technologies into one or both of the OFFSET swarm systems architectures, and will have the chance to further develop and demonstrate their i...

2019/09/26 Reinventing the Network Stack for Compute-Intensive Applications

Computing performance has steadily increased against the trajectory set by Moore’s Law, and networking performance has accelerated at a similar rate. Despite these connected evolutions in network and server technology however, the network stack, starting with the network interface card (NIC) – or the hardware that bridges the network/server boundary – has not kept pace. Today, network interface hardware is hampering data ingest from the network to processing hardware. Additional factors, such as limitations in server memory technologies, memory copying, poor application design, and competition for shared resources, has resulted in network subsystems that are creating a bottleneck within the network stack and are throttling application throughput. “The true bottleneck for processor throughp...

2019/09/11 Structure-Guided Drug Design Could Yield Fast-Acting Remedies for Complex Neuropsychiatric Conditions

In the wake of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the mental health crisis among U.S. military veterans remains unrelenting, despite the best efforts of healthcare researchers and providers to confront the scale and scope of the problem. According to a 2018 report from the Department of Veterans Affairs, an average of twenty U.S. veterans commit suicide each day. To address the acute need for improved treatment options, DARPA today announced Focused Pharma, a program that seeks to revolutionize mental healthcare by developing completely new psychotherapeutic drugs to quickly remedy prevalent neuropsychiatric conditions such as post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. While the neurophysiology underlying these conditions may be distinct, an aspect in common is the presen...

2019/09/10 DARPA Announces Final Teams to Compete in Spectrum Collaboration Challenge Championship Event

DARPA today announced the 10 teams that have qualified for the Championship Event of the Spectrum Collaboration Challenge (SC2) – a three-year contest to unlock the potential of the radio frequency (RF) spectrum using artificial intelligence (AI). The teams will head to Mobile World Congress Los Angeles on October 23, 2019, where their radio designs will go head to head during a live competition. The first, second, and third place winners will walk away with $2 million, $1 million, and $750,000 prizes, respectively. “These teams have fought long and hard for their chance to compete in SC2’s Championship Event,” said Paul Tilghman, the program manager leading SC2. “After three-years of competition, this final roster reflects some of the best minds working at the intersection of AI and wirel...

2019/09/03 World’s Most Powerful RF Emulator to Become National Wireless Research Asset

Over the past three years, DARPA’s Spectrum Collaboration Challenge (SC2) has relied on a custom-built virtual testbed called the Colosseum to host thousands of competitive matches and scrimmages, which will include the final match to determine the winner of the $2 million grand prize. Supporting SC2’s mission to reimagine new spectrum access strategies in which radio networks autonomously collaborate to determine how the RF spectrum should be used moment-to-moment required the development of a research environment capable of emulating communication signals at real-world scope and scale. Working with engineers at John Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab (JHU APL) and National Instruments (NI), DARPA constructed a 256-by-256 RF channel emulator that can calculate and simulate in real-tim...

2019/09/03 Uncovering the Who, Why, and How Behind Manipulated Media

The threat of manipulated multi-modal media – which includes audio, images, video, and text – is increasing as automated manipulation technologies become more accessible, and social media continues to provide a ripe environment for viral content sharing. The creators of convincing media manipulations are no longer limited to groups with significant resources and expertise. Today, an individual content creator has access to capabilities that could enable the development of an altered media asset that creates a believable, but falsified, interaction or scene. “At the intersection of media manipulation and social media lies the threat of disinformation designed to negatively influence viewers and stir unrest,” said Dr. Matt Turek, a program manager in DARPA’s Information Innovation Office (I2...

2019/08/22 Rolling, Walking, Flying, and Floating, SubT Challenge Teams Traverse the Tunnel Circuit

Subterranean (SubT) Challenge Systems teams are trekking toward the Urban Circuit after competing in the Tunnel Circuit, the first scored event of DARPA’s high-tech underground contest. Eleven teams from eight countries gathered in Pittsburgh, August 15-22, 2019, to attempt to map, identify, and report artifacts along the passages of two Pittsburgh mines. With them, they brought 20 unmanned aerial vehicles, 64 ground robots, and one autonomous blimp robot named Duckiefloat. DARPA-funded and self-funded teams compete side-by-side throughout the Subterranean Challenge. Only self-funded teams are eligible for prizes in the Circuit Events, but they must finish in the top five overall. All qualified teams are eligible for prizes in the Final Event. [embedded content] Teams in the Tunnel Circuit...

2019/08/20 DARPA Making Progress on Miniaturized Atomic Clocks for Future PNT Applications

Many of today’s communications, navigation, financial transaction, distributed cloud, and defense applications rely on the precision timing of atomic clocks – or clocks that track time based on the oscillation of atoms with the highest degrees of accuracy. Harnessing the power of atoms for precise timing requires a host of sophisticated and bulky technologies that are costly to develop and consume large amounts of energy. New applications and technologies like 5G networks and GPS alternatives will require precise timekeeping on portable platforms, driving a demand for miniaturized atomic clocks with a high degree of performance. Over the past few decades, DARPA has invested heavily in the advancement and miniaturization of atomic clock technology, generating chip-scale atomic clocks (CSACs...

2019/08/09 Extending Field of View in Advanced Imaging Systems

The military relies on advanced imaging systems for a number of critical capabilities and applications – from Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) and situational awareness to weapon sights. These powerful systems enable defense users to capture and analyze visual data, providing key insights both on and off the battlefield. Today, nearly all imaging systems rely on detector arrays fabricated using planar processes developed for electronic integrated circuits on flat silicon. While significant progress has been made in advancing these technologies for narrow field of view (FOV) systems, optical aberrations can limit the performance at the periphery in wide FOV systems that then require large, costly, and complex optics to correct. The trade-off for correcting optical aberra...

2019/08/07 Teams Test Swarm Autonomy in Second Major OFFSET Field Experiment

During the second field experiment for DARPA’s OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) program, teams of autonomous air and ground robots tested tactics on a mission to isolate an urban objective. Similar to the way a firefighting crew establishes a boundary around a burning building, they first identified locations of interest and then created a perimeter around the focal point. [embedded content] OFFSET envisions large swarms of collaborative autonomous systems providing critical insights to small ground military units in urban areas where vertical structures, tight spaces, and limited sight lines constrain communications and mobility. The program includes multiple “sprint” efforts, which focus on different elements of the command, control, and collaboration among large numbers of vehic...

2019/08/07 From Plastic to X: Sourcing Military Waste for On-Site Production of Critical Stocks

The tremendous ability of the U.S. military to project power entails an equally imposing logistical chain to maintain stocks of food, water, medicines, fuel, and other supplies critical to troops and equipment. That chain gets stretched to extremes when the military is called upon to rapidly deploy anywhere in the world and sustain operations without the benefit of fixed infrastructure. ReSource, the newest program from DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office, sets out to revolutionize how critical supplies are procured, by using self-contained, integrated systems to convert military waste into chemical lubricants for weapons and machinery or even into food and water. The overriding goal of the program is to create systems that can rapidly produce materials onsite, when and where they are n...