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2019/05/21 DARPA Identifies Teams Qualified to Compete in First Scored Event of SubT Challenge

Eleven teams from around the world will attempt to remotely map, identify, and report the greatest number of artifacts along the passages of a Pittsburgh research mine in the Subterranean Challenge Tunnel Circuit. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Mining Program manages the formerly operational mine, which will serve as the arena for the Systems event August 15-22, 2019. The Tunnel Circuit is the first of three circuits in which teams will test their systems and sensors in physical, representative subterranean courses. The Urban Circuit will take place in February 2020, followed by the Cave Circuit in August 2020. The Final Event incorporating all three subdomains will be in August 2021. Virtual competitions will take place concurrently with each of the physical com...

2019/05/20 Discover DSO Day Announced

DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office (DSO) will host Discover DSO Day (D3) on June 18, 2019, to facilitate discussion of technical research thrusts outlined in a new office-wide Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) solicitation expected in mid-June. Additionally, D3 will familiarize participants with DSO’s mission and streamlined business practices designed to simplify the proposal process and accelerate the timeline from idea approval to research start date. The event will take place in the DARPA Conference Center, Arlington, Virginia, from 8:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EDT, and the audio also will be webcast. Registration is required to attend in person or via webcast. One of six technical offices at DARPA, DSO identifies and pursues high-risk, high-payoff research initiatives across a broad spectrum of ...

2019/05/03 A Scent-Based Strategy for Preventing Mosquito Transmission of Disease

Could it be that your scent is just a bit too attractive? It is known that mosquitoes are drawn to certain human chemical odors that lead the insects to sources of food. ReVector, a new program from DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office, intends to diminish that attraction — or even actively repel mosquitoes — by engineering the skin microbiome to temporarily alter chemical production. By modulating the interaction of skin-associated microbes with metabolites from the body, ReVector technologies might lower the incidence of mosquito feeding and thus reduce the opportunity for the insects to transmit diseases such as malaria, dengue, and chikungunya that reduce military readiness. ReVector addresses a persistent need among U.S. military forces to protect against insect vectors of disease. ...

2019/05/03 Expediting Software Certification for Military Systems, Platforms

Military systems are increasingly using software to support functionality, new capabilities, and beyond. Before a new piece of software can be deployed within a system however, its functional safety and compliance with certain standards must be verified and ultimately receive certification. As the rapid rate of software usage continues to grow, it is becoming exceedingly difficult to assure that all software considered for military use is coded correctly and then tested, verified, and documented appropriately. “Software requires a certain level of certification – or approval that it will work as intended with minimal risks – before receiving approval for use within military systems and platforms,” said Dr. Ray Richards, a program manager in DARPA’s Information Innovation Office (I2O). “How...

2019/04/30 DARPA Tests Advanced Chemical Sensors

DARPA’s SIGMA program, which began in 2014, has demonstrated a city-scale capability for detecting radiological and nuclear threats that is now being operationally deployed. DARPA is building off this work with the SIGMA+ initiative that is focused on providing city- to region-scale detection capabilities across the full chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive threat space. DARPA initiated a SIGMA+ pilot study last year known as ChemSIGMA to provide initial data and insights into how new chemical sensors using the existing SIGMA network would function. The chemical sensor package incorporates a chemical sensor, wind sensor and communications board into a weatherproof housing. Sensors report wind readings and real-time chemical information to a central cloud-hosted suite ...

2019/04/29 With Insights from Integration Exercise, SubT Challenge Competitors Prepare for Tunnel Circuit

Nine teams hailing from four continents gathered in Idaho Springs, Colorado, the week of April 5-11, 2019, to test autonomous air and ground systems for navigating the dark, dangerous, dirty, and unpredictable underground domain. The SubT Integration Exercise, known as STIX, took place at the Colorado School of Mines’ Edgar Experimental Mine. The event provided a shakeout opportunity for competitors in advance of the Tunnel Circuit in August, the first of three subdomains that teams will tackle in DARPA’s Subterranean Challenge. [embedded content] The teams were divided into three groups. Each group had one day to experiment with their various systems during multiple runs in the mine, followed by a second day in which each team attempted a one-hour mock, scored run. Teams could earn points...

2019/04/10 Three Teams Qualify to Compete in DARPA Launch Challenge

The DARPA Launch Challenge aims to fundamentally shift military space capabilities to enable on-demand, flexible, and responsive launch of small payloads. Three competitors successfully completed the qualification phase and will attempt to launch to low-Earth orbit from two different U.S. locations within a matter of weeks. Teams will receive notice of the first launch site a few weeks prior to launch and exact details on the payload and intended orbit just days before launch. DARPA is targeting both launches for early 2020. The qualifying competitors are Vector Launch; Virgin Orbit, which entered the competition via its wholly owned subsidiary, VOX Space; and a third company, which has requested anonymity for the first few months of the Challenge. DARPA awarded a $400,000 prize to each co...

2019/04/05 DARPA Announces Second Annual ERI Summit

Since its official announcement on June 1, 2017, DARPA’s Electronics Resurgence Initiative (ERI) has sought to advance the development of a specialized, secure, and heavily automated electronics industry. ERI – a five-year, upwards of $1.5B investment to enable far-reaching improvements in electronics performance – has fostered collaborations among the commercial electronics sector, defense industrial base, and university researchers. As ERI enters its second year, DARPA seeks to reconvene the electronics community at the second annual ERI Summit in Detroit, Michigan, July 15–17. The Summit will allow electronics innovators to share their vision for the future, review technical progress, and provide input into future research directions. Last year’s ERI Summit gathered nearly 900 members o...

2019/04/01 OFFSET Seeks Proposals to Accelerate Swarm Tactics in Virtual Environments

DARPA is soliciting creative proposals for the fourth swarm sprint in its OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) program. OFFSET envisions swarms of 250 collaborative autonomous systems providing critical capabilities to ground units in urban areas where challenges such as tall buildings, tight spaces, and limited sight lines constrain essential communications, sensing, maneuverability, and autonomous operations. The swarm sprints aim to encourage rapid innovation and continuous incorporation of breakthrough technologies. Each of the five core sprints emphasizes one of the key OFFSET thrust areas – swarm tactics, swarm autonomy, human-swarm teaming, virtual environment, and physical testbed – to ultimately enable cross-cutting breakthroughs in swarm systems capabilities. [embedded conten...

2019/03/25 DARPA Seeks to Make Scalable On-Chip Security Pervasive

For the past decade, cybersecurity threats have moved from high in the software stack to progressively lower levels of the computational hierarchy, working their way towards the underlying hardware. The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) has driven the creation of a rapidly growing number of accessible devices and a multitude of complex chip designs needed to enable them. With this rapid growth comes increased opportunity for economic and nation-state adversaries alike to shift their attention to chips that enable complex capabilities across commercial and defense applications. The consequences of a hardware cyberattack are significant as a compromise could potentially impact not millions, but billions of devices. Despite growing recognition of the issue, there are no common tools, metho...

2019/03/22 In the Sky and on the Ground, Collaboration Vital to DARPA’s CODE for Success

On a brisk February morning in the Yuma, Arizona, desert, a swarm of unmanned aerial vehicles equipped with DARPA’s Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment system, or CODE, successfully carried out mission objectives, even when communications were offline and GPS was unavailable. One-by-one, six RQ-23 Tigersharks lifted off, fitted with an array of sensors onboard. Next to the runway at the U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Ground, the mission team inside a small operations center tracked the aircraft and as many as 14 additional virtual planes on an aerial map. The capstone demonstration paired program performer Raytheon’s software and autonomy algorithms and Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory’s White Force Network to create a realistic, live/virtual/constructive test envir...

2019/03/21 Using AI to Build Better Human-Machine Teams

The inability of artificial intelligence (AI) to represent and model human partners is the single biggest challenge preventing effective human-machine teaming today. Current AI agents are able to respond to commands and follow through on instructions that are within their training, but are unable to understand intentions, expectations, emotions, and other aspects of social intelligence that are inherent to their human counterparts. This lack of understanding stymies efforts to create safe, efficient, and productive human-machine collaboration. “As humans, we are able to infer unobservable states, such as situational beliefs and goals, and use those to predict the subsequent actions, reactions, or needs of another individual,” said Dr. Joshua Elliott, a program manager in DARPA’s Informatio...