September 14, 2015
By Sandra Jontz

The ease at which criminals can reverse engineer software makes for lucrative transgressions with national security implications, prompting government-backed researchers to seek innovations to shore up vulnerabilities, officials say.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, turned to academia and awarded a multiyear mission to develop obfuscation technology to better safeguard software intellectual property, both for commercial and government endeavors. The aim of DARPA’s SafeWare program is to find a solution that would render the software, such as proprietary algorithms, incomprehensible to a reverse engineer.

September 2, 2015

IBM Corp., Yorktown Heights, New York, has been award a $10,193,876 modification (P00006) exercising the second option to previously awarded HR0011-13-C-0022 for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Power Efficiency Revolution For Embedded Computing Technologies (PERFECT) program. The modification brings the total cumulative face value of the contract to $17,056,647. Work will be performed in Yorktown Heights, New York (66 percent); Cambridge, Massachusetts (12 percent); Charlottesville, Virginia (12 percent); and Stanford, California (10 percent), with an expected completion date of March 2018.

September 2, 2015

Leidos Inc., Reston, Virginia, has been awarded a $7,890,740 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for a research project under the Shared Spectrum Access for Radar and Communications (SSPARC) program (Coexistence Phase 2). The contractor will continue research in the area of spectrum sharing between radar and communications systems to build on prior work carried out in the coexistence thrust of Phase 1. Fiscal 2015 research and development funds in the amount of $5,352,607 are being obligated at the time of award.

August 19, 2015

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., Stratford, Connecticut, has been awarded a $9,787,539 agreement modification (P00002) to exercise the phase II option of previously awarded other transaction HR0011-15-9-0004 for the Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program. Phase II will involve ALIAS requirements update and concept evolution, ALIAS ACES V2.0 technology development and verification, ALIAS system integration, and Phase II capability demonstrations. During Phase II, Sikorsky will conduct UH-60L based flight demonstration of the Autonomous Crew Enhancement System (ACES) cargo-resupply mission and full demonstration of ACES system on a representative fixed-wing aircraft.

August 19, 2015

SRI International, Menlo Park, California, is being awarded an $8,520,257 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to provide research and development services for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Support includes innovative research proposals in the areas of data privacy and privacy science to provide tools to capture, test and evaluate technologies. Work will be performed in Menlo Park, California, and is expected to be completed Feb.

June 4, 2015

Raytheon BBN Technologies Corp., Cambridge, Massachusetts, has been awarded a $12,211,473 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract (HR0011-15-C-0097), for a research project under the Edge-Directed Cyber Technologies for Reliable Mission program. Fiscal 2015 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $2,331,395 are being obligated at time of award. Vencore Labs Inc., doing business as Applied Communication Sciences (ACS), Basking Ridge, New Jersey, has been awarded an $11,762,572 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract (HR0011-15-C-0098).The period of performance is 36 months, with two 18-month phases.

June 1, 2015
By Sandra Jontz

Give researchers about five years, and people will be communicating with machines—a far cry from today’s clicking, swiping and typing, says one scientist working with the Defense Department’s futuristic research arm. While improvements in algorithms helped develop artificial intelligence over the past several years so vast amounts of data from videos, signals and human intelligence could be deciphered quickly, the progress amounts to little more than fancy math.

May 18, 2015
By George I. Seffers
DARPA has developed a variety of robotic systems, including the Boston Dynamics Big Dog, though traditional developers. The RFT effort aims to engage developers who do not usually work with the government.

Small-scale robot developers who do not normally work with the federal government will be given a chance to do just that under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA’s) new Robotics Fast Track (RFT) effort. Through the RFT, which currently is a pilot program, DARPA officials seek to enable rapid, cost-effective development of new robotics capabilities in response to—or in anticipation of—rapidly evolving warfighter needs.

March 26, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
An example of neutron imaging: On the left, lilies photographed through an open cask. On the right, a neutron imaging system used to photograph the lilies through the lead walls of the cask. This image demonstrates the power of neutrons to easily pass through otherwise impenetrable materials.

The notion of nefarious scientists re-engineering the genetics of living organisms to then weaponize their new specimens has some researchers jostling for the upper hand, including those at the U.S. Defense Department’s main research agency.

March 20, 2015

System High Corporation, Chantilly, Virginia, has been awarded a ceiling $19,490,440 modification (P00029) exercising the third option period on a previously awarded contract (HR0011-12-C-0024) for contractor support services for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Security and Intelligence Directorate. The modification brings the total cumulative face value of the contract to $76,475,347 from $56,984,908. Work will be performed at DARPA headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, with an expected completion date of March 31, 2016.

March 9, 2015

Isis Defense, Alexandria, Virginia, has been awarded a $7,034,317 firm-fixed-price, other transaction for prototypes agreement, for a research project entitled "Threat Intelligence Platform." This agreement provides for the development of a threat intelligence and cyber analytics platform that will merge existing Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency big data research with novel approaches to high-performance computing and data storage hardware. Fiscal 2014 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $750,000 are being obligated at time of award. All work will be performed in Alexandria, Virginia, with an estimated completion date of March 2016.

March 5, 2015
By George I. Seffers
Systems competing in the DARPA robotics challenge must demonstrate the ability to help humans in case of emergency.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has released a list of 25 teams to perform in the finals of the DARPA Robotics Challenge to be held June 5-6, 2015, at Fairplex in Pomona, California, outside of Los Angeles. Human-robot teams will be tested on capabilities that could enable them to provide assistance in future natural and man-made disasters.

Fourteen new teams from Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, the People’s Republic of China, South Korea and the United States qualified to join 11 previously announced teams. The roboteams will vie for a chance to win one of three cash prizes totaling $3.5 million.

March 1, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
A sandstorm and thunderstorm move quickly over the fields of Sangin, Afghanistan, toward Forward Operating Base Jackson on May 4, 2011. Storms have a detrimental effect on the operation capabilities of U.S. and coalition forces.

As scientists sleuth to enhance U.S. military air mission capabilities through automation and alternative technologies, some in the Office of Naval Research want to find ways for aircraft—manned or unmanned—to operate in even the worst kinds of weather. Along with working on aircraft that would operate without a Global Positioning System, radar or even pilots, the experts are exploring how these vehicles could function in the most unfavorable conditions—particularly as they navigate the complex maritime role unique to the U.S. Navy of landing aircraft on moving ships.

February 27, 2015
By George I. Seffers
Logos Technologies has received a contract to continue development of the SilentHawk military motorcycle in partnership with Alta Motors.

Logos Technologies, Fairfax, Virginia, has received a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to continue development of the SilentHawk military motorcycle in partnership with Alta Motors.

February 20, 2015

Agile Defense Inc., Reston, Virginia, has been awarded a competitive $26,191,017 cost-plus-award-fee task order (HR0011-15-F-0002) with options for unclassified information technology services and support for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Mission Services Office Information Technology Directorate. The services and support include office computing, networking, communications services, design and development and technical support services. The task order was competed amongst all holders of the General Services Administration Alliant Small Business Government-wide Acquisition Contract. Seven offers were received. The base-year award has a 10-month period of performance.

February 11, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
Aaron Nicely, of RE2, manipulates the High Dexterity Robot to retrieve candy from a bag at the Naval Future Force Science and Technology Expo.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is going back to high school—sort of. The research arm of the Defense Department launched a challenge for all high school students called Robots4Us, a video contest on societal implications of robotics.

Students are to focus on how robots could make a difference for society in the future. Students are to make a two- to three-minute video that shows the kind of robot-assisted society they would like to see.

The contest opened today, February 11, and the video entry deadline is April 1, no fooling.

February 9, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
Pat Hickey, an engineer with Galois Incorporated in Portland, Oregon, prepares to fly a mini drone with software rewritten to make it invulnerable to hackers. It is part of the DARPA-funded High-Assurance Cyber Military Systems. By Sandra Jontz

In case you missed it, CBS’s newsmagazine "60 Minutes" this weekend featured a segment with Dan Kaufman, director of the Information Innovation Office (I2O) for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), who talked about the office’s efforts to outsmart hackers, sex traffickers and those seeking to do harm to the United States.

May 23, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has unveiled a drone and a mini bomb-detecting bot that operate on secure software that officials say make them hack-proof. The High-Assurance Cyber Military Systems (HACMS) is protective software built into operating systems from inception to negate security vulnerabilities to just about anything that works on network computers.

“The technology that we are developing here is to make it so those kinds of systems are not easily hackable. In fact, they are provably invulnerable to large classes of attacks,” says Program Manager Kathleen Fisher.

December 31, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

So the countdown is on … the countdown for a new year, new challenges and new triumphs. During 2015, the nation’s top weather experts are slated to get a new weather satellite. The Pentagon will get a new chief. The Army will get at least four new uniforms. But before we take more of a look at the future, we wanted to highlight a countdown that sums up 2014, posted by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

December 16, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Industry and academia are gearing up to showcase some of the most advanced robotics and research work at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Robotics Challenge, a competition of robotic systems and software teams developing robots with a goal of helping humans respond to natural and man-made disasters.

Participating teams are developing hardware, software, sensors and human-machine interfaces to enable robots to complete a series of challenges that mirror disaster responses. Competing robots will face degraded physical environments that simulate disaster conditions.