The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which might as well be known as the Science Fiction as Reality Society, has announced plans to create and implant nanochips in soldiers that will monitor their health. As you might have guessed, this plan has raised a little bit of controversy with the fear that this could turn the Earth into Total Recall.
If you want to know what's behind a wall when you're in hostile territory, it's probably not a great idea to stick your head out to take a look. The Sand Flea robot gives you a safer way to look, with its tremendous leaping ability allowing access over walls and into buildings.
Regina Dugan, formerly director of DARPA and now with Google, gave a TEDTalk on failure that just came online. That's great, but there's also new video of some of DARPA's coolest projects (like its hypersonic Mach 20 aircraft) included in the talk and that alone makes watching it worthwhile.
DARPA, which DVICE readers will know from the agency's endearingly insane projects (see here, here and here), wants to send up a swarm of short-lived, rapidly produced satellites to allow for more extensive air surveillance alongside — or even in lieu of — manned recon aircraft and unmanned drones.
Developed by Boston Dynamics with funding from DARPA, the four-legged Cheetah robot isn't quite as fast as its totemic animal, but it can still whip itself into a sprinty furor. In this video, the Cheetah cements its place as the fastest robot with legs to date.
If you've ever seen a gecko, you've probably noticed how excellent they are at not falling off of things. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst have managed to create an adhesive based on gecko toes that works nearly as well as the real thing, and an index card of this stuff is powerful enough to stick you and six* of your most daring friends directly to a sheet of glass.
DARPA has recently awarded a grant to a young security researcher to continue development of a viable spy computer so cheap it can be trashed after one use. The Falling or Ballistically -launched Object that Makes Backdoors (F-BOMB) is built from commercially available parts and can be assembled for about $50.
A new generation of robots has just grown a 'tails' thanks to inspiration from the lizard. A research team at the University of California, Berkeley, funded in part by the Army Research Laboratory, observed the stabilizing effect a lizard's tail has on its body when scrambling and leaping through its habitat and have added tails to their robots to achieve a similar effect.
DARPA is funding the research of miniature cameras and microphones that could be mounted like backpacks on beetles-turned-spies. That's not even the best part — the sensors will be powered by an insect's own wing movements, meaning fully independent insects able to explore the world's most dangerous places.
It's only been about a month since DARPA challenged geeks everywhere to come up with a way to reassemble shredded documents, but we have a winner: a team based in San Francisco named "All Your Shreds Are Belong To U.S."