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Official account of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Defense.

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The crux of training is transferring knowledge from experienced operators to novices. The task is limited in part by the availability and fidelity of training materials. Augmented and virtual reality can help to improve training outcomes, but, at present, development of AR & VR training products is de novo, meaning it's time intensive and often contrived. To address those constraints, we're asking small businesses for a way to speed development of synthetic, 3-D, immersive training scenarios generated from recorded real-world content that reflects the subtlety and nuance of actual human interactions. This opportunity is one of five new / opportunities for small businesses that we've pre-released. We will be accepting proposals for the five topics from Sept. 10, 2019 to Oct. 10, 2019. The other topics include: 1) Compact Voltage Ladders 2) Advanced Electromagnetic Wave Shielding using DNA-Nanoparticle Composites 3) Distributed mm-Wave Full Duplex Two-Way Time Transfer 4) Ultrathin Dielectric Elastomer Fibers for Actuation The topics were released as part of a new SBIR initiative being piloted by DARPA to increase the flexibility and program-responsiveness of small business opportunities. Under it, funding opportunities are posted on a "just-in-time" basis to align with current program needs, outside of the three pre-determined SBIR/STTR announcements issued at the Department of Defense level. (Shown here: U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Alexander Harris, a linguist, uses a virtual reality headset during the 2nd Air Force Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality Summit at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. USAF image by John Ingle.)

We are in the fourth and final day of competition for the Tunnel Circuit! From move-in day through day 3, eleven teams from around the world have put in long hours to progress their approaches in the high-tech underground scavenger hunt. They score points by accurately mapping, identifying and reporting artifacts ranging from a backpack to a manikin representing a survivor, all items a first responder could encounter in an emergency situation underground. By the end of the day, each team will have completed two runs on each of two courses, Safety Research and Experimental, for a total of four runs each. Their final scores will equal the sum of each team’s best score from each of the two courses.

It’s not all robots here at the SubT Challenge. From team arrivals and meeting to the first days in the tunnels, the staff and teams are hard at work behind the scenes.

Unpacking never looked so fun. Teams from around the world are moving in and setting up for competition in the Tunnel Circuit. See link in bio.

If you heard a loud "whoosh" yesterday, that was the sound of our Gremlins unmanned aerial vehicle rushing to X-Plane status! @USAirForce assigned Gremlins the designation "X-61A." In flight tests scheduled for later this year, we'll attempt aerial launch and recovery of four Gremlins within 30 minutes. The UAVs are designed to launch from an array of aircraft and be recovered by an airborne C-130 with a special docking mechanism. The expected Gremlins' lifetime of about 20 uses could provide significant cost advantages by reducing payload and airframe costs, and by having lower mission and maintenance costs than conventional platforms, which are designed to operate for decades. Gremlins are being developed for DARPA by Dynetics, Inc. and Kratos Defense and Security Solutions.

We have a new funding opportunity for the small business community aimed at establishing the feasibility of hands-free interfaces with low size, weight, and power (SWaP) requirements that can unobtrusively and intuitively convey low data-rate information (

The LUKE Arm can now return a more natural sense of touch to amputees! A team of researchers led by the @UniversityofUtah College of Engineering and supporting DARPA's HAPTIX program combined math and models to develop signal patterns for electrical stimulation of the peripheral nervous system that mimic how the human communicates tactile information to the brain. During tests in the lab, this nuanced communication made it easier for Keven Walgamott, an amputee user of the sensor-equipped prosthesis, to pick up and handle objects and perform delicate tasks. Next steps for the team include developing a version of the HAPTIX system that is completely portable and does not need to be wired to a computer outside the ; expanding the range of nuanced sensations that can be communicated (e.g., temperature, pain); applying the work to above-the-elbow amputations; and expanding to an in-home study with three volunteers, pending federal regulatory approval.

TIROS (shown here in pre-clean room days) was the world's first weather satellite, created for ARPA by RCA, and launched by @NASA in 1960. TIROS supported operation of CORONA, the world's first photo-reconnaissance satellite, by providing crucial information for planning. Because the CORONA satellites had a very narrow time window in which their high-resolution cameras would take images of strategic targets inside the Soviet Union - images that were recovered in the upper atmosphere by high-flying aircraft capturing parachuting payloads containing film canisters - planners needed to know in advance if cloud conditions would allow for each reconnaissance mission to go forward. The same month that TIROS went up, we also launched Transit, the world's first navigation satellite, created for ARPA by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. The Transit system remained in operation until 1996, when the current Global Positioning System (GPS) took over. The second image here shows Transit at DARPA’s 60th anniversary symposium in 2018. (TIROS image courtesy of NASA)

We were excited to learn about progress being made by on new neural interface technology! The field of neurotechnology as a whole is gaining momentum as more powerful tools are created to understand and interact with the brain. For instance, the "sewing machine" robot described by Neuralink for placing electrodes in the brain was developed by University of California, San Francisco with DARPA funds. The fact that it has transitioned to use by industry underscores the effectiveness of DARPA's model of reducing technological risk to create new opportunities. Even as industry now plays a welcome and increased role in certain aspects of neurotech, DARPA will continue to work at the frontier of what's possible to avoid surprise, reduce risk, and continue to create opportunity. For instance, our Next-Generation Nonsurgical Neurotechnology program is looking at how to develop high-resolution interfaces that work without the requirement for surgery so that they can be used by able-bodied people. (Images: @UCSF)

An industry and program first! Under our 3DSoC program, the first monolithic 3D device structures produced in a fab were unveiled yesterday in at our by Dr. Max Shulaker from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The 3DSoC program aims to drive the future of system-on-a-chip architecture, utilizing 3D fabrication to address key limits in current 2D SoC design and . @MITpics

The Apollo 11 mission, the first to land humans on the moon, launched 50 years ago today. DARPA's role in that mission's success started 11 years before with engine and fuel work. In August 1958, just six months after ARPA was established (later renamed DARPA), the agency authorized a proposal by Wernher von Braun and his research team at the Army Ballistic Missile Agency in Huntsville, Alabama, to design and build a large, heavy-lift rocket vehicle. To quickly and cheaply achieve massive in the first stage, ARPA suggested a design featuring a cluster of available rocket engines, the powerful F-1 developed by Rocketdyne in the mid-1950s. Also expediting the successful development of the Saturn booster was the reliance in the upper stages on liquid hydrogen technology developed earlier for the ARPA-supported CENTAUR vehicle. The first image here shows an injector plate of an F-1 engine. From the injector plate's holes, liquid fuel and liquid oxygen would spray out, much like water from the head of a garden hose, but under enormous pressure. This particular F-1 engine is on display in Huntsville at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. At present, DARPA remains at the forefront of rocket design, now focusing on the challenges of boosting assets to orbit quickly, with little notice, and at relatively low cost. (Injector plate photo by Lee Hutchinson; other photos courtesy of NASA)

Our second annual Electronics Resurgence Initiative Summit kicked off today in . More than 1,000 members of the electronics community have gathered to hear from industry leaders and researchers about progress made under our programs. Some of the speakers on Day 1 include: Dr. Lisa Su, CEO of AMD; Dr. Bill Chappell, CTO of Microsoft Azure Global; Dr. John Kelly, III, Executive Vice President of IBM; Dr. Lisa Porter, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering; Mr. John Neuffer, President of the Semiconductor Industry Association; Dr. Ilan Gur, Executive Director of Cyclotron Road; Dr. Rich Uhlig, Managing Director of Intel Labs; Dr. Partha Ranganathan, Distinguished Engineer at Google; and Dr. Mark Rosker, Director of DARPA's Microsystems Technology Office.

Using our Squad X technologies, dismounted units can partner with artificial intelligence to dominate the battlespace. The program highlights manned-unmanned teaming to enhance capabilities for ground units, giving squads battalion-level insights and intelligence. U.S. Marines recently tested Squad X systems at Twentynine Palms' Air Ground Combat Center. DARPA is working with @LockheedMartin and CACI International Inc. on Squad X. The program has moved quickly through development and is already well along the transition path, due in large part to the program's focus on partnering with the services to ensure real-world efficacy. Feedback has included a desire for a user interface so intuitive that training takes an hour or less and any available action is accessible in two screen taps. Catch video of the Squad X tech on our YouTube channel, DARPAtv.

Here’s a throwback to the DARPA Robotics Challenge days of 2013-2015 when we set out to describe the value of public prize challenges. Briefly, prize challenges inspire out-of-the-box thinking; encourage broad and diverse participation; and have great economics. Right now, DARPA is running three challenges: the Spectrum Collaboration Challenge; the DARPA Launch Challenge; and the Subterranean Challenge.

A research team led by @BrownU and funded by DARPA's Molecular Informatics program has demonstrated a "molecular thumb drive" that can store digital images in metabolite molecules. According to Brown, it's a step toward molecular storage systems that can efficiently hold vast amounts of data in tiny spaces. Brown described the process this way: The researchers assembled artificial metabolomes - small liquid mixtures with different combinations of molecules. The presence or absence of a particular metabolite in a mixture encodes one bit of digital data, a zero or a one. The number of molecule types in the artificial metabolome determines the number of bits each mixture can hold. Thousands of mixtures are then arrayed on small metal plates in the form of nanoliter-sized droplets. The contents and arrangement of the droplets, precisely placed by a liquid-handling robot, encode the desired data. The plates are then dried, leaving tiny spots of metabolite molecules, each holding digital information. The data can then be read out using a mass spectrometer, which can identify the metabolites present at each spot on the plate and decode the data.

Our SIGMA+ sensor network was deployed at the recent Indianapolis 500. As some 300,000 race fans packed the stands for the event, behind the scenes our advanced network of sensors provided security officials with real-time awareness of any potential weapon of mass destruction or mass terror threats. The deployment marked the first time that DARPA's SIGMA+ network seamlessly integrated radiological and chemical sensors with biological threat sensors from the Department of Homeland Security's Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office. The joint DARPA-DHS sensor coverage demonstrated the powerful scaling capabilities of the SIGMA+ network. DHS' expanded involvement built on five years of prior radiation and nuclear detection support to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department for the race. DARPA researchers who developed the SIGMA+ sensors and network included Two Six Labs and Physical Sciences Inc.

Three balloons on a flight test for our Adaptable Lighter Than Air (ALTA) program have landed safely in northern California. The balloons navigated from east to west across the country without propulsion, adjusting their altitude to ride different wind profiles after launching from Cumberland, Maryland, on June 17, 2019, as shown here (along with concept art). The balloons can fly at altitudes of more than 75,000 feet.

Our Aircrew Labor In-cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program has successfully completed its first flight in a Black Hawk helicopter. The UH-60A/L helicopter completed the fly-by-wire flight May 29, 2019, via a retrofit kit from performer Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company. ALIAS integrates directed autonomy with the goal to assist pilots by providing the confidence to fly aircraft safely, reliably, and affordably with two, one, or zero crew. The aircraft now enters a flight test program that is to be followed by a series of progressive demonstrations, which include unpiloted operations.

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