Researchers Set to Decode Biological Circuitry That Drives Peak Performance and Resilience

DARPA’s Measuring Biological Aptitude (MBA) program begins and ends with the men and women of the United States military. The program — first announced in January 2019 — centers on how service members can access the potential of their own biological systems to achieve peak results across a range of military specializations, and aims for a detailed understanding of how measurement of those systems in real time can help service members perform at their maximum potential.

Powering Future Optical Microsystems with Chip-Scale Integrated Photonics

Lasers are essential to many fields – ranging from optical communications and remote sensing, to manufacturing and medicine. While the semiconductor laser was first demonstrated nearly 60 years ago, advances in diode lasers and access to semiconductor fabrication techniques have enabled continued innovation and miniaturization of the technology. Photonic integrated circuits (PICs), which combine many photonic elements onto a single chip, have also transformed the way lasers and other optical systems are engineered, creating improvements in size, weight, and power (SWaP), system performance, and enabling new functionality. Despite these advances, a number of obstacles still hamper the proliferation of optical systems for defense and commercial applications.

Gene Editors Could Find New Use as Rapid Detectors of Pathogenic Threats

In a twist on how gene editing technology might be applied in the future, DARPA’s newest biotechnology funding opportunity aims to incorporate gene editors into detectors for distributed health biosurveillance and rapid, point-of-need diagnostics for endemic, emerging, and engineered pathogenic threats. The “Detect It with Gene Editing Technologies” (DIGET) program could help the Department of Defense maintain force readiness by informing rapid medical response and increasing the standard of care for troops, and preserve geopolitical stability by preventing the spread of infectious disease from becoming a driver of conflict.

DARPA’s Angler Program Awards Contracts to Advance Autonomous Underwater Systems

DARPA has awarded six contracts for work on the Angler program, which aims to pioneer the next generation of autonomous underwater robotic systems capable of physical intervention in the deep ocean environment. This class of future unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) must overcome reliance on GPS and human intervention to support infrastructure establishment, maintenance, and resilience over the vastness of the ocean. The Angler program seeks to merge breakthroughs in terrestrial and space robotics, as well as underwater sensing, to develop autonomous robotic solutions capable of navigating and surveying ocean depths, and physically manipulating human-made objects of interest.

Subterranean Challenge Identifies Urban Circuit Location, Updates Prize Amounts

The DARPA Subterranean (SubT) Challenge Urban Circuit will take place Feb. 18-27, 2020, at Satsop Business Park west of Olympia, Washington. In the SubT Challenge, teams deploy autonomous ground and aerial systems to attempt to map, identify, and report artifacts along two competition courses. The artifacts represent items a first responder or service member may encounter in underground environments.

GatorWings Wins DARPA Spectrum Collaboration Challenge

DARPA today announced that GatorWings, a team of undergraduate students, Ph.D. candidates, and professors from the University of Florida are the winners of the Spectrum Collaboration Challenge (SC2) – a three-year competition to unlock the true potential of the radio frequency (RF) spectrum with artificial intelligence (AI). DARPA hosted the championship event at Mobile World Congress 2019 (MWC19) Los Angeles in front of a live audience. SC2’s final 10 competitors and their AI-enabled radios went head-to-head during six rounds of competitive play. GatorWings emerged victorious, taking home first place and the $2 million grand prize.