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DARPA

The prototype biospleen and components (Image: DARPA)

Today, when we think of the dangers of the battlefield, we think of wounds caused by bullets, bombs, and other weapons. But as late as the Spanish American war of 1898, the number of soldiers who died from infectious diseases as opposed to directly from combat injuries was seven to one. Thanks to the discovery of penicillin and other antibiotics, that ratio has swung dramatically the other way, but it’s still a major problem, not only for military personnel, but civilians too. DARPA is developing an artificial spleen, or "biospleen," as a way to help fight deadly infections without antibiotics.  Read More

The laser turret prototype being tested on the University of Notre Dame’s Airborne Aero Op...

High energy laser (HEL) systems have been the subject of military research for decades, but it is only in recent years that the technology has advanced to the point where it is feasible for such systems to be mounted on military ground vehicles and sea vessels. Initial flight tests have now been conducted on a new aircraft laser turret that will help pave the way for HEL systems to be integrated into military aircraft.  Read More

A US$2,9 million contract will allow the Wyss institute to continue development of a soft ...

DARPA has awarded a first-phase US$2.9 million follow-on contract to the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University as part of its Warrior Web program to create a soft exoskeleton. The Wyss Institute is studying the biometrics of walking as part of an effort to develop a soft fabric exoskeleton called the Soft Exosuit that uses robotics and biomimetics to augment the wearer’s musculoskeletal system as a way to reduce fatigue and injuries in soldiers and the disabled.  Read More

Northrop Grumman's preliminary design for DARPA's Experimental Spaceplane XS-1 (Image: Nor...

Northrop Grumman, in partnership with Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic, has unveiled the preliminary design it is developing as part of DARPA’s XS-1 Spaceplane project. Looking like a windowless update of a 1960s Dyna Soar orbiter, it’s the next step in producing launch systems that will dramatically reduce the costs of getting into orbit.  Read More

GXV-T aims to make tanks half as heavy and twice as fast (Image: DARPA)

As a quick visit to any armored division will make obvious, tanks are big ... really big. A Challenger 2 main battle tank, for example, weighs 62.5 tonnes (68.9 tons) and costs about £4.2 million (US$7 million). And as anti-tank weapons get better, tanks can only get bigger. To avoid armies of tomorrow having to pay for land-going battleships, DARPA’s Ground X-Vehicle Technology (GXV-T) program aims at developing lighter, more agile successors to the tank that protect themselves with more than ever-thicker walls of steel.  Read More

The Leidos ACTUV is part of DARPA's submarine tracking program (Image: DARPA)

As part of DARPA's Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) program, Reston Virginia-based company Leidos is building the first robotic autonomous vessel designed to locate and track the extremely quiet diesel submarines that are finding their way into the navy fleets around the world.  Read More

A DARPA rendering of the planned XS-1, launching its second-stage rocket

It takes a lot more money and preparation to launch a rocket than to have a plane take off. That's why DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) first initiated its Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program. The idea is that once built, the XS-1 could take off and land like a regular aircraft, but could also deliver satellite payloads into low-Earth orbit while airborne. Today, the agency announced its plans for Phase 1 of the program, which includes awarding contracts for designs of the autonomous spaceplane.  Read More

DARPA has conducted live-fire testing of its .50 caliber guided bullet

With an ability to strike from great distances, snipers present a unique threat in the field of battle. This long-range lethality is not without its complications, however, with accuracy often dictated by wind, rain and dust, not to mention targets that are constantly on the move. Over the last few months, DARPA has been conducting live-fire tests of guided .50 caliber bullets and today unveiled footage demonstrating the project's success.  Read More

The Restoring Active Memory project is aimed at helping brain-injured veterans and civilia...

Earlier this year, we heard about how DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) was setting up its new Biological Technologies Office. The goal of that division is to "merge biology, engineering, and computer science to harness the power of natural systems for national security." This week, the agency released details of one of the office's key projects, called Restoring Active Memory. It's aimed at using implantable "neuroprosthetics" to help army veterans and other people recover from memory deficits caused by brain injury or disease.  Read More

Modified red blood cells could be put to work, delivering more than just oxygen

Although several studies are currently exploring the use of man-made nanoparticles for delivering medication to targeted areas of the body, care must be taken to ensure that those particles don't cause adverse reactions when introduced to the bloodstream. Scientists at the MIT-affiliated Whitehead Institute, however, are taking a different approach to the same basic concept. They've developed a method of attaching chemical payloads to red blood cells.  Read More

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