Military

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...

2019/08/02 Evolving Computers from Tools to Partners in Cyber-Physical System Design

Department of Defense (DOD) systems and platforms are composed of numerous integrated cyber-physical subsystems, which create an enormous amount of complexity and makes their engineering a daunting task. Today, designing cyber-physical systems (CPS) requires an army of skilled engineers with the right domain expertise, and hundreds of domain-specific tools. The process used to design these systems is largely manual, creating long design cycles that often result in costly redesigns after building and testing the systems. The flaws in the process are numerous – from balancing predictability with cost-efficiency to operating under tight time constraints to integrating disparate pieces from multiple design teams. Further, teams are often limited to focusing on known design approaches, restrict...

2019/08/01 Hacker Community to Take on DARPA Hardware Defenses at DEF CON 2019

This month, DARPA will bring a demonstration version of a secure voting ballot box equipped with hardware defenses in development on the System Security Integrated Through Hardware and Firmware (SSITH) program to the DEF CON 2019 Voting Machine Hacking Village (Voting Village). The SSITH program is developing methodologies and design tools that enable the use of hardware advances to protect systems against software exploitation of hardware vulnerabilities. To evaluate progress on the program, DARPA is incorporating the secure processors researchers are developing into a secure voting ballot box and turning the system loose for public assessment by thousands of hackers and DEF CON community members. Many of today’s hardware defenses cover very specific instances or vulnerabilities, leaving ...

2019/07/18 Generating Zero-Knowledge Proofs for Defense Capabilities

There are times when the highest levels of privacy and security are required to protect a piece of information, but there is still a need to prove the information’s existence and accuracy. For the Department of Defense (DoD), the proof could be the verification of a relevant capability. How can one verify this capability without revealing any sensitive details about it? In the commercial world, this struggle manifests itself across banking transactions, cybersecurity threat disclosure, and beyond. One approach to addressing this challenge in cryptography is with zero-knowledge proofs. A zero-knowledge proof is a method where one party can prove to another party that they know a certain fact without revealing any sensitive information needed to demonstrate that the fact is true. “A zero-kno...

2019/07/16 DARPA Announces Microsystems Exploration Program

Over the past few decades, DARPA’s Microsystems Technology Office (MTO) has enabled revolutionary advances in electronics materials, devices, and systems, which have provided the United States with unique defense and economic advantages. To continue its path of successful electronics innovation, DARPA today announced a new MTO effort called the Microsystems Exploration program. The Microsystems Exploration program will constitute a series of short-term investments into high-risk, high-reward research focused on technical domains relevant to MTO. Leveraging streamlined contracting and funding approaches, awards for each area of exploration – or μE topic – will be made within 90 days of announcement. Each μE topic will run for up to 18 months, during which time researchers will work to estab...