Main Menu

The World of 2020 According to DARPA


To reduce the price of weapons and other gear by creating new solutions to old problems–or “rethink complex military systems,” as deputy director Steven Walker of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency puts it–is among DARPA’s focus areas for the next few years. This week, the agency highlighted potential solutions to this and other problems, describing a menagerie of magical technologies that are entering a new phase of research or development.

Some are listed in the agency’s biannual Breakthrough Technologies for National Security report, released this morning to coincide with DARPA director Arati Prabhakar’s testimony before the House Armed Services Committee. Others have been highlighted by DARPA officials who recently spoke around Washington. They include:

Zombie Pods Of the Deep

The Upward Falling Payloads program seeks to put robot pods on the ocean floor and then allowing them to lie in wait for years until, triggered by either an event or a command, they wake from their deathly sleep and rise to the surface to release their payloads. “Those payloads could hold things like UAVs [drones] that can go up and do ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance], to electronic warfare components to UUVs [underwater drones] that can do similar things under the water,” Walker said.