Five years ago, DARPA challenged researchers to create a vacuum system smaller than a cubic centimeter and powered by just a quarter-Watt of energy. This week, DARPA announced the program's success. Researchers at University of Michigan, MIT, and Honeywell International have each demonstrated penny-sized micromachines that pave the way for scaled-down chemical sensors.
GPS is great, but it isn't always reliable. The signal can be interrupted by, say, a tunnel, or something else smothering the relay between here and space. So DARPA wants to navigate GPS blackout areas with a chip that does everything you need when GPS stops working, and to make that tech smaller than a US penny.
It's hard enough to find good people for a given job. Harder still: finding the right dog. The U.S. military employs and deploys canines in a variety of roles throughout the armed services - bomb detection, search and rescue, post-traumatic stress disorder therapy - and each dog selected for those roles goes through a rigorous training regimen that can cost tens of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the dog. Now, DARPA wants to test for pooch potential with brain scans, hoping to "optimize the selection of ideal service dogs."
DARPA's vision for scavenging and salvaging dead satellites in orbit continues its trudge toward technologic feasibility. DARPA launched its Phoenix initiative in summer of last year hoping to cobble together a robot capable of intercepting, dismantling, and rebuilding defunct satellites even as they whip through space some 22,000 miles above the Earth. It's a tall order, requiring all kinds of capabilities that are less-than-fully mature, things like robotic autonomy/artificial intelligence, machine vision, and on-orbit satellite refueling. But if a new video released by DARPA is any indication, work on the Phoenix satellite scavenger is progressing.