The 2020 DARPA ERI Summit & MTO Symposium

eri-summit.darpa.mil

The 2020 Summit’s fully virtual environment will showcase performer technical achievements and demonstrations across four major transition themes relevant to national security and to the larger microelectronics sector.

Industry leaders will bring unique and indispensable perspectives on the state of the domestic semiconductor industry, national and economic security, and future research directions.

To ensure the health and safety of attendees, personnel, partners, and performers, the 2020 Summit will be hosted on a world-class, immersive, and entirely virtual platform with built-in features for live presentations, online interaction, exhibits, and networking.

Register: http://www.cvent.com/d/jnq6b7

“Voices from DARPA” Podcast, Episode 29: The Light and Matter Maestro

In this episode of the Voices from DARPA podcast, Dr. Michael Fiddy, a program manager since 2016 in the agency’s Defense Sciences Office (DSO), takes listeners on a whirlwind tour of his programs. They all share a common thread, which stems from Fiddy’s lifelong interest in how light — electromagnetic (EM) energy, more generally — interacts with matter. At DARPA, he has expressed that interest by challenging researchers to investigate whether biological cells interact with one another via EM signals; how it might be possible to use low-frequency EM radiation to see through just about anything (including metal); and how precisely engineered surfaces might tap into quantum mechanical phenomena (Casimir forces) in the vacuum of space in a quest for fuel-less propulsion technology. As Fiddy points out in the podcast, “We have been doing science for a few hundred years and there still is an awful lot that we don’t know.”

Blubrry (podcast host): https://blubrry.com/voices_from_darpa/62986942/episode-29-the-light-and-matter-maestro/

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/voices-from-darpa/id1163190520

DARPA FETT Bug Bounty

DARPA is hosting its first ever bug bounty program called the Finding Exploits to Thwart Tampering (FETT) Bug Bounty. Held in partnership with the Department of Defense’s Defense Digital Service (DDS) and Synack, a trusted crowdsourced security company, FETT aims to utilize hundreds of ethical hackers, researchers, and reverse engineers to deep dive into secure hardware architectures in development on DARPA’s System Security Integration Through Hardware and Firmware (SSITH) program. Those participating in FETT will work to uncover potential vulnerabilities or flaws that could weaken the SSITH defenses, and disclose their findings to DARPA and Synack for a cash bounty. DARPA will then work to address the disclosed vulnerabilities to further strengthen the SSITH architectures, and ultimately improve electronic system security for all.

“Voices from DARPA” Podcast, Episode 28: The Swarm Commander

In this episode of the Voices from DARPA podcast, Dr. Timothy Chung, a program manager since 2016 in the agency’s Tactical Technology Office, delves into his robotics and autonomous technology programs – the Subterranean (SubT) Challenge and OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET). From robot soccer to live-fly experimentation programs involving dozens of unmanned aircraft systems (UASs), he explains how he aims to assist humans heading into unknown environments via advances in collaborative autonomy and robotics.

Blubrry (podcast host): https://blubrry.com/voices_from_darpa/62186911/episode-28-swarm-commander/

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/voices-from-darpa/id1163190520

Building Virtual Worlds for the DARPA Subterranean Challenge

The DARPA Subterranean (SubT) Challenge offers the opportunity to build your own virtual underground environments with the SubT Simulator to test your robots using ROS and Ignition Gazebo. The cave worlds can contain dynamic obstacles (falling rocks) to further test teams’ autonomy in the SubT Challenge Virtual Competition.

For more information, check out the SubT Challenge Virtual Competition video, visit the SubT Challenge website, and read instructions on how to compete! Links to additional resources below.

Subterranean Challenge main website: https://www.subtchallenge.com/

Build your own virtual underground world: https://github.com/osrf/subt/wiki/World-Creation-Tutorial

Rock falls tutorial: https://github.com/osrf/subt/wiki/RockFalls-tutorial

DARPA Subterranean Challenge Virtual Competition overview: https://youtu.be/gSMiLLx8Y0Y

How to Compete: https://subtchallenge.world/how-to-compete

DARPA FETT Bug Bounty: Hacking the Way to More Secure Electronic Systems

DARPA’s first ever bug bounty program – the Finding Exploits to Thwart Tampering (FETT) Bug Bounty – aims to utilize hundreds of ethical researchers to deep dive into secure hardware architectures in development on the System Security Integration Through Hardware and Firmware (SSITH) program, and uncover and address potential vulnerabilities or flaws that could weaken their defenses. DARPA is partnering with the Department of Defense’s Defense Digital Service (DDS) and Synack, a trusted crowdsourced security company on FETT. FETT is expected to run from July-September 2020.

Those interested in participating in the FETT Bug Bounty have a chance to qualify to join Synack’s community of ethical researchers – the Synack Red Team (SRT). Prior to the start of FETT, Synack is running a Capture-the-Flag (CTF) qualifier for any cybersecurity enthusiast interested in gaining access to the SSITH defenses. Qualified security researchers have an opportunity to earn a Technical Assessment ‘Fast Pass’ to join SRT. The CTF event will run from June 15-29, 2020: https://go.synack.com/darpa-ctf-registration-page.html

New Content Available for the DARPA Subterranean Challenge Virtual Cave Circuit

New content is up to prepare for the #SubTChallenge Virtual Cave Circuit, including new practice worlds and robot model capabilities. Learn more: https://subtchallenge.world

“Voices from DARPA” Podcast, Episode 27: Detecting Threats with Time to Act

In this episode of the Voices from DARPA podcast, Mark Wrobel, a program manager since 2019 in the agency’s Defense Sciences Office (DSO), chronicles progress in the SIGMA+ program and its potential near-term relevance to monitoring the environment for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The now-completed predecessor program, SIGMA, delivered a sensor and analysis system for detecting imminent nuclear and radiological threats in complex settings like cities, stadiums, and travel hubs. That system has been transitioning into deployments. The charge of the SIGMA+ program is to expand the threat-detection system’s abilities to include an extensive range of chemical, explosive, and biological agents. To avoid costly false alarms and potentially lethal false negatives (missed detections), the technology must be able to reliably discern actual threats from the myriad benign nuclear, radiological, chemical, and biological signals that typically are present in any given location. As Wrobel puts it, “We are trying to move detection to the left of boom.”

Blubrry (podcast host): https://blubrry.com/voices_from_darpa/60914093/episode-27-detecting-threats-with-time-to-act/

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/voices-from-darpa/id1163190520

“Voices from DARPA” Podcast, Episode 26: The Eclectic Biotechnian

In this episode of our Voices from DARPA podcast, Eric Van Gieson, a program manager since 2017 in the agency’s Biological Technologies Office (BTO), recounts how a boyhood fascination with DARPA ultimately led to his current role overseeing a portfolio of envelope-pushing programs. These include a program that seeks new diagnostic tools for perhaps the earliest-possible detection of exposure to pathogens, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19; an effort to identify and leverage the biomolecular bases underlying optimal performance in such roles as piloting aircraft or participating in special forces missions; research toward new personal-protection technologies that combine advanced featherweight fabrics with designed, bio-based agents applied directly to the body where they can neutralize injurious chemical and biological agents before they can do damage; and a bold biomedical strategy that stands a chance of replacing some medicine-based treatments (for conditions ranging from irritable bowel syndrome to post-traumatic stress disorder) with treatments based on the electrical stimulation of the peripheral nervous system, specifically the far-reaching vagus nerve.

Blubrry (podcast host): https://blubrry.com/voices_from_darpa/60546558/episode-26-the-eclectic-biotechnician/

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/voices-from-darpa/id1163190520

Gamebreaker AI Effort Gets Under Way

DARPA recently selected nine teams for the Gamebreaker Artificial Intelligence (AI) Exploration program, which held its virtual kickoff meeting May 5, 2020.

Gamebreaker seeks to develop and apply AI to existing open-world video games to quantitatively assess game balance, identify underlying parameters that significantly contribute to balance, and explore new capabilities, tactics, and rule modifications that are most destabilizing to the game.

For more, visit: http://www.darpa.mil/news-events/2020-05-13

“Voices from DARPA” Podcast, Episode 25: New Molecular Tactics for Pandemic Times

In this episode of our Voices from DARPA podcast, we turn again to Dr. Anne Fischer, a program manager since 2017 in the agency’s Defense Sciences Office (DSO), this time to learn how she has been swerving two of her programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of those programs, Accelerating Molecular Discovery (AMD), centers on developing machine-learning and other computational techniques to dramatically streamline the discovery of molecules with properties relevant to the Department of Defense. Think here of chemical-warfare simulants for research, coatings that protect assets and personnel, specialty fuels, and medicines to counter emerging threats. With an eye on that last one, Dr. Fischer has been swerving some AMD work into an urgent hunt for molecules with previously unrecognized antibiotic properties. One specific target is new treatments for secondary, bacterial lung infections in patients with COVID-19. The other program Dr. Fischer is swerving into the COVID-19 response is Make-It. The program’s envisioned deliverables for the DoD include tabletop chemical-synthesis systems that can produce chemicals when and where they are needed. Think here of the ability to quickly synthesize pharmaceuticals in a battlefield setting. Think here also of a chemical-synthesis channel independent of globalized supply chains that can become compromised. Now, this capability for on-demand synthesis of chemical products, including antivirals and reagents for diagnostic tests, is revealing Make-It technology as a promising component of our ability to respond to emergencies such as outbreaks of infectious diseases.

For the previous discussion with Dr. Fischer about her background, interests, and longer-term goals for the programs she manages, please also listen to Episode 22, titled The Chemquistador.

Blubrry (podcast host):
https://blubrry.com/voices_from_darpa/59223258/episode-25-new-molecular-tactics-for-pandemic-times/

iTunes:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/voices-from-darpa/id1163190520

Subterranean Challenge Urban Circuit Virtual Competition Highlights

The ability to traverse vertical spaces proved key to success in the Subterranean (SubT) Challenge Urban Circuit. BARCS topped the leaderboard in the Virtual competition. Repeating success from the Tunnel Circuit, Coordinated Robotics earned the self-funded first prize in the Virtual competition, taking home $250,000.

The Virtual competition with eight teams took place Jan. 23-30, with results announced Feb. 27. Teams from eleven countries participated across the Virtual and Systems competitions in the Urban Circuit.

Subterranean Challenge Urban Circuit Systems Competition Highlights

The ability to traverse vertical spaces proved key to success in the Subterranean (SubT) Challenge Urban Circuit. CoSTAR took the top spot in the Systems competition. Extending their performance from the Tunnel Circuit, CTU-CRAS-NORLAB earned the highest score among self-funded teams and the $500,000 prize.

In the Systems competition of the Urban Circuit, 10 teams navigated two courses winding through an unfinished nuclear power plant in Elma, Washington, Feb. 18-27, 2020. DARPA designed the courses to represent complex urban underground infrastructure. Teams from eleven countries participated across the Virtual and Systems competitions in the Urban Circuit.

DARPA Subterranean Challenge – Virtual Cave Worlds

Take a first look into the #SubTChallenge Virtual Cave Worlds! See how the third circuit differs from Tunnel and Urban environments, including branching layouts, vertical shafts, and rocky obstacles–all without leaving the house. Qualification scenario and schedule coming soon.

For more information and to access the worlds, visit SubTChallenge.world

“Voices from DARPA” Podcast, Episode 24: Preventing Pandemics

We find ourselves in pandemic times. The global population is under siege by an infectious virus new to humankind. It’s called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2. It’s the causative agent of the pandemic disease designated COVID-19. This viral adversary knows no politics. It recognizes no national boundaries. It is unconcerned with anyone’s identity. All 7.8 billion of us are the same to the virus: we are all hosts suitable to commandeer to make copies of itself. DARPA has long recognized how devastating pandemic diseases like COVID-19 could be and the Agency embraced the attitude that it could do something about the threat of pandemics. In recent years, it has been creating and supporting communities of innovators who are doing the science and applying the lessons they are learning to create a technology platform that stands a chance of this: preventing any outbreak of infectious disease—anywhere and anytime—from growing into a global conflagration like the one we are experiencing right now. In this episode of the Voices from DARPA podcast, join a team of program managers in the Agency’s Biological Technologies Office as they explain how they are striving to develop a multi-pronged technology platform that has the potential to render COVID-19 humanity’s last pandemic.

Blubrry (podcast host):
https://blubrry.com/voices_from_darpa/57709321/episode-24-preventing-pandemics/

iTunes:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/voices-from-darpa/id1163190520

“Voices from DARPA” Podcast, Episode 24: Preventing Pandemics

We find ourselves in pandemic times. The global population is under siege by an infectious virus new to humankind. It’s called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2. It’s the causative agent of the pandemic disease designated COVID-19. This viral adversary knows no politics. It recognizes no national boundaries. It is unconcerned with anyone’s identity. All 7.8 billion of us are the same to the virus: we are all hosts suitable to commandeer to make copies of itself. DARPA has long recognized how devastating pandemic diseases like COVID-19 could be and the Agency embraced the attitude that it could do something about the threat of pandemics. In recent years, it has been creating and supporting communities of innovators who are doing the science and applying the lessons they are learning to create a technology platform that stands a chance of this: preventing any outbreak of infectious disease—anywhere and anytime—from growing into a global conflagration like the one we are experiencing right now. In this episode of the Voices from DARPA podcast, join a team of program managers in the Agency’s Biological Technologies Office as they explain how they are striving to develop a multi-pronged technology platform that has the potential to render COVID-19 humanity’s last pandemic.

Blubrry (podcast host):
https://blubrry.com/voices_from_darpa/57709321/episode-24-preventing-pandemics/

iTunes:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/voices-from-darpa/id1163190520

Hallmark Transitions Key Strategies for Space Situational Awareness, Management

The space domain is critical to national security. It also has become increasingly chaotic and crowded over the past decade as the burgeoning space industry launches constellations of satellites. To conduct their missions, military commanders need timely and accurate information from space assets, as well as robust and reliable communications.

Since its inception in 2015, DARPA’s Hallmark program has successfully developed tools providing increased space situational awareness and strategies for asset management and protection, similar to the approach the Air Force has been perfecting for the air domain over the past 100 years. As Hallmark concludes at DARPA, discussions are ongoing with multiple Department of Defense and other national security organizations, as well as commercial entities, to incorporate elements of the program into future efforts.

Air Combat Evolution (ACE) – Technical Area 1: Building Combat Autonomy

DARPA is soliciting innovative proposals for the Air Combat Evolution (ACE) Program Technical Area 1 (TA-1): Building Combat Autonomy: https://go.usa.gov/xdHbB. Technical Areas 2, 3, and 4 were solicited under a previous Broad Agency Announcement. The ACE program aims to increase warfighter trust in combat autonomy by automating aerial within-visual-range (WVR) maneuvering, colloquially known as a dogfight, using progressively more realistic platforms (following demonstrations in modeling and simulation, the program will graduate to live small-scale unmanned aerial vehicles, and culminate on live operationally representative aircraft). The ACE TA-1 BAA specifically solicits the development of artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms that can conduct aerial dogfighting. A dogfight represents the progression in autonomy from current physics-based automation generally trusted by operators to more complex human-machine collaboration necessary to realize the promise of future manned/unmanned teaming.

A Proposers Day for potential proposers to the Air Combat Evolution (ACE) Tech Area 1 (TA-1) Broad Agency Announcement for building dogfighting algorithms will be held March 26, 2020, in the DARPA Conference Center. For more details visit: https://go.usa.gov/xdHbN

The ACE program is a vital part of the Mosaic Warfare end-state vision: https://www.darpa.mil/work-with-us/darpa-tiles-together-a-vision-of-mosiac-warfare