DARPA has announced a program aimed at developing a cutting edge neural implant capable of forming a communication bridge between a human brain and electronic devices. It is hoped that technology developed under the Neural Engineering System Design program will have a wide range of applications in research and healthcare.
DARPA has revealed more details of the Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node (Tern) program that aims to turn smaller US Navy ships into miniature aircraft carriers for Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV). Phase 3 of program to develop a tail-sitting flying wing designed to take off and land vertically from destroyers and other small ships was awarded to Northrop Grumman, which will build a full-scale demonstrator for sea trials.
The competition to fulfill DARPA's plan to turn US Navy destroyers and frigates into drone-launching aircraft carriers seems to be over as Northrop Grumman has unveiled its version of the Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node (Tern) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). Based on the flying wing design, the Tern UAV lifts off vertically in a tail-down configuration and is designed to operate from the decks of smaller surface ships in the US Navy without the need for aircraft carrier-type runways.
Researchers from the University of Illinois are developing a computer system capable of communicating with humans through the medium of jazz, playing improvised pieces in real time. The project forms part of DARPA's Communicating with Computers (CwC) program, approaching the development of robot communication skills from a very different direction.
Military airborne communications can be tricky. Not only do they need to overcome attempted disruption from hostiles, but also tackle the difficulties in getting different systems to work together. DARPA is looking to improve things, soliciting proposals to get both manned and unmanned systems communicating faster, more securely and in spite of enemy jamming attempts.
Two years ago, DARPA started developing self-destructing electronics as a way to prevent advanced military gear falling into the wrong hands. Now the agency is expanding on the idea with its Inbound, Controlled, Air-Releasable, Unrecoverable Systems (ICARUS) program, which is tasked with developing small, unmanned, single-use, unpowered air vehicles that can can be dropped from an aircraft to deliver supplies to isolated locations in the event of disasters, then evaporate into thin air once their job is done.
DARPA's ElectRx project envisions tiny devices, the width of a single nerve strand, that could be injected into the body to monitor certain conditions and then stimulate targeted nerves in response, harnessing the body’s own repair mechanisms to deal with a range of conditions like chronic pain, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and certain autoimmune diseases. DARPA sees the potential to create new treatments that automatically and continuously tune themselves to the needs of a specific patient.
Warships are only as effective as far as they can see, so DARPA's Towed Airborne Lift Of Naval Systems (TALONS) research effort is aiming to extend their horizons by giving them a crow's nest 1,500 ft (457 m) tall by way of a towed parafoil. A TALONS prototype recently completed sea trials off the US East Coast as part of a project to provide ships of every size with better long-distance communications and situational awareness.
A mechanical hand utilizing DARPA-developed neural technologies has
become the first to allow a paralyzed patient to feel physical
sensations through a prosthesis. The 28 year-old test subject was able
to determine which mechanical finger was being touched whilst
blindfolded, with total accuracy.
Helicopters are versatile machines capable of all manner of maneuvers in the air, but when it comes to takeoffs and landings they are very fussy creatures, preferring flat, level pads, which are scarce in combat and rescue missions. DARPA recently demonstrated a new robotic landing gear system in an unmanned flight near Atlanta, Georgia, that's designed to overcome these limitations by enabling landings on broken or uneven terrain with a high degree of safety.