Tag Archives | DARPA

DARPA Seeking Small Business Partners To Develop Robots

800px-DARPA_LogoHard to believe that DARPA is feeling the pinch as Obama’s never-ending wars push our national debt to unimaginable levels, but apparently they need help. Report from Fast Company:

Back in July the government identified robots as one of the R&D priorities for the 2012 budget (about a decade behind the rest of us). Now there’s a research funding round to aid small business robotic’s efforts, to build robot gear DARPA can’t manage.

The Office of Science and Technology Policy was behind July’s thinking that “Robotics is an important technology because of its potential to advance national needs such as homeland security, defense, medicine, healthcare, space exploration,” and a whole list of other purposes. The OSTP thinks it’s also a tech at “a tipping point in terms of its usefulness and versatility,” thanks to innovations in programming, hardware, and computer vision.

Now the White House has announced that five federal agencies have banded together to create a fund to spur “small business research.” Companies can apply for cash to aid work on “robot-assisted rehabilitation, robotics for drug discovery, and robots that can disarm explosive devices.” This last one is particularly revealing, given how much the U.S.

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Scientists Develop ‘Fake’ Genetically-Engineered Blood for Use on the Battlefield

BattlefieldNiall Firth in the Daily Mail writes:

American scientists have developed ‘artificial’ blood that could soon be used to treat wounded soldiers in battle.

The genetically-engineered blood is created by taking cells from umbilical cords and using a machine to mimic the way bone marrow works to produce mass quantities of usable units of red blood cells.

Known as ‘blood pharming’ the programme was launched in 2008 by the Pentagon’s experimental arm, Darpa, to create blood to treat soldiers in far-flung battlefields.

The firm Arteriocyte, which received $1.95 million for the project, has now sent off its first shipment of O-negative blood to the food and drugs watchdog in the US, the FDA.

Read more: Daily Mail

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Holy DARPA, Batman! Pentagon’s BaTMAN and RoBIN Projects Attempt to Master Biology

Who knew that reading comic books or watching the classic ’60s Batman TV show would lead to this? Katie Drummond writes in WIRED’s Danger Room:
Batman & Robin

The Pentagon’s blue-sky research arm has outdone itself this time. Darpa’s got two new projects that are ambitious in scope, even by their standards. So maybe that explains why the agency opted to enlist some awesomely bad superhero acronyms to characterize the way-out endeavors.

At least, that’s the best explanation Danger Room can come up with. Because it’s tough to see a connection between the fundamental nature of time, biological design … and Gotham City’s Caped Crusader and Boy Wonder.

Leave it up to the prodigious acronym artists at the Pentagon — responsible for gems like RESURRECT, NIRVANA and DUDE — to go for it anyway. Darpa’s launching Biochronicity and Temporal Mechanisms Arising in Nature (BaTMAN), in an effort to better understand “the spatio-temporal universe,” and, from there, “transform biology from a descriptive to a predictive field of science.”

It’s an area the Darpa’s been exploring for years, especially when it comes to quantum effects in nature.

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Military Begins Funding Super-Intelligent Computer Chip

From Surfdaddy Orca on h+ magazine:

Skynet?

The military is funding a project to create neural computing using memristors, a sophisticated circuit component which HP Labs describes as a stepping stone to “computers that can make decisions” and “appliances that learn from experience.”

In a video, HP researcher R. Stanley Williams explains how his team created the first memristor in 2008, while the article also explains how U.C. researchers made an even more startling discover: the memristor “already existed in nature.”

It matches the electrical activity controlling the flux of potassium and sodium ions across a cell membrane, suggesting memristors could ultimately function like a human synapse, providing the “missing link” of memory technology.

HP believes memristors “could one day lead to computer systems that can remember and associate patterns in a way similar to how people do.” But DARPA’s SyNAPSE project already appears committed to scaling memristor technology to perform like a human synapse.

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DARPA Wants to Override Evolution to Make Immortal Synthetic Organisms

800px-DARPA_LogoBy Jeremy Hsu for PopSci:

Death-resistant synthetic beings? Don’t worry, there’s a genetically encoded kill-switch

It’s been a long time since a Pentagon project from the DARPA labs truly evoked a “WTF DARPA?!” response, but our collective jaw dropped when we saw the details on a project known as BioDesign. DARPA hopes to dispense with evolutionary randomness and assemble biological creatures, genetically programmed to live indefinitely and presumably do whatever their human masters want. And, Wired’s Danger Room reports, when there’s the inevitable problem of said creatures going haywire or realizing that they’re intelligent and have feelings, there’s a planned self-destruct genetic code that could be triggered.

Unsurprisingly, molecular biologists have weighed in with huge caveats and raised fingers of objection. First, they say that DARPA has the wrong idea about hoping to overcome evolution’s supposed randomness, and that evolution really represents a super-efficient design algorithm. Then there’s the problem of guaranteeing immortal life for any biological creature in the first place — just look here and here at some really smart people who have yet to find that fountain of youth.

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U.S. Military Prepares for Cyber War

Surfdaddy Orca writes in h+ magazine:
Ever wonder how exactly the U.S. military would fight a cyber war? In August 2009, the U.S. Air Force activated its new cyberspace combat unit, the 24th Air Force, to "provide combat-ready forces trained and equipped to conduct sustained cyber operations." It's commanded by former Minuteman missile and satellite-jamming specialist Major General Richard Webber. (And under his command are two wings, the 688th Information Operations Wing and the 67th Network Warfare Wing, plus a combat communications units.) Meanwhile, to counter the threat of cyber warfare, DARPA is still deploying the National Cyber Range, a test bed of networked computers to test countermeasures against "cyberwar". (According to one report, it provides "a virtual network world . to be populated by mirror computers and inhabited by myriad software sim-people 'replicants,' and used as a firing range in which to develop the art of cyber warfare.") And the Obama administration has even added a military cybersecurity coordinator to the National Security team.
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DARPA Tests Zombie Hibernation Formula

DARPA is funding research into "a zombie-like form of hibernation" -- including a $9.9 million Texas program seeking to induce suspended animation. They're testing chemical compounds on anesthetized pigs to keep them "as close to death as possible" -- to improve emergency trauma care for soldiers on the battlefield. Also being tested is a pancreatic enzyme found in squirrels "to put humans into a state of squirrel-like hibernation...
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DARPA Seeks Means to Manipulate Lightning

LightningClay Dillow writes on Popular Science:

Lightning Mother Nature has it. DARPA wants it.

China and Russia try to control rain clouds and the Dutch use technology to keep low-lying inland areas from flooding, so why shouldn’t the United States be able to manipulate lightning? In an attempt to better understand one of nature’s most powerful processes, DARPA issued a broad agency announcement yesterday asking for ideas on how to best protect American personnel and resources from dangers and costs associated with lightning strikes. To wit:

Lightning causes more than $1B/year in direct damages to property in addition to the loss of lives, disruption of activities (for example, postponement of satellite launches) and their corresponding costs. A better understanding of the physics underlying lightning discharge, associated emissions, and related processes (for example, tribocharging in the clouds) may lead to revolutionary advances in the state of the art of lightning protection.

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Military Funds Tiny Flying “Spy Hummingbird”

“It looks like a hummingbird!” But it’s an unmanned military aerial vehicle with a 5-inch wingspan for which DARPA is providing a second round of funding!

The ‘spy hummingbird’ weighs just 10 grams (about the weight of two nickels) and can perform “controlled hovering flight” using only an on-board power source and flapping its two wings…

This article appeared in the latest edition of H+ magazine.

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CounterTech – A(F)I: Artificial (Feline) Intelligence

SittingNow.com have employed the A.I. powers of Disinformation the Podcast host Joe McFall to kick off their new and improved 'CounterTech' series. This week, IBM scientists and their university partners announced a breakthrough in cognitive computing research: the simulation of a brain the size of a cat's. Using 144 terabytes of RAM and almost 150,000 processors, scientists were able to model a neural cortex with 1 billion simulated neurons and 10 billion synaptic connections. The researchers have subsequently been awarded $16.1 million for completion of phase 0 of DARPA's SYNAPSE project. The goal of SYNAPSE (Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics), according to DARPA, is "to develop electronic neuromorphic machine technology that scales to biological levels." In layman's terms, their goal is to put simulated brains onto microchips...
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