DARPA launches new programmes to support national security


The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) Defense Sciences Office (DSO) has launched new programmes to streamline the process of scientific discovery in support of national security.

The Fundamental Design (FUN DESIGN) and Imaging Through Almost Anything, Anywhere (ITA3) programmes have been launched as part of DARPA's Disruptioneering effort, which pushes for faster identification and exploration of ideas to speed up scientific discovery.

The DSO seeks to develop small programmes that require $5m of funding or less on an expedited timeline, with an initial target of less than 90 days from inception to contract award, and a downstream target of fewer than 75 days.

DSO acting director Tyler McQuade said: “There’s a vast waterfront of research in science and technology that we’re constantly scanning and probing for the next big discovery.

“These Disruptioneering ‘mini-programmes’ are designed to quickly explore some of the most radical and potentially highest-payoff ideas to see if there’s something there to be pursued further.

"The goal is to speed up the tempo of innovation and ultimately to reduce risk by making smaller targeted investments."

"The goal is to speed up the tempo of innovation and ultimately to reduce risk by making smaller targeted investments that could lead to quantum leaps forward in technology for national defence.”

As part of Fun Design, DARPA seeks to investigate new fundamental computational and mathematical building blocks for representing optimised designs of mechanical systems.

The ITA3 focuses on the use of all-pervasive low-frequency, electromagnetic waves, combined with simple computational methods to consider the challenge of imaging through metal containers, walls, ground, fog, water, and other complex media.

The first phase of the Disruptioneering programmes will initially assess a new idea over a three to six month period, and will be followed by a second phase lasting 12 to 15 months.


Image: DARPA's disruptioneering effort pushes for faster identification and exploration of ideas with the goal of accelerating scientific discovery. Photo: courtesy of DARPA.