The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Strategic Technology Office (STO) develops technology to give national security leaders trusted, disruptive capabilities to win in all physical domains (air, space, sea, and land) and across the spectrum of competition, from deterrence to high-end peer combat. Leveraging advancements in technologies such as advanced microelectronics, increased computing capacity, and applied machine learning/artificial intelligence, STO will pursue solutions in the areas of advanced active and passive sensing; battlefield effects; command, control, and communications; system of autonomous systems; and empowered human decision making. STO will develop and deliver solutions at a speed and scale to be operationally relevant in just a few years from the initiation of the project to proof of concept.
In order to reach the broadest set of potential performers for future office projects, this request for information (RFI) is seeking information from potential performers for any or all of the research areas listed below. This RFI is to provide a mechanism to inform the office of new capabilities and concepts and the potential performers who will provide them. DARPA will use this information to determine the companies and individuals that STO would invite to have further substantive discussions to inform future projects and programs in appropriately classified settings when necessary.
Areas that are of continued interest to STO are technologies that enable significant advances in finding difficult, elusive “targets.” This includes new modalities, sensors, and signal processing techniques that create leap-ahead target detection, tracking, and recognition. STO also envisions a future of sensing and networking that, without any countermeasures, leaves “nowhere left to hide.” STO is interested in thwarting sensor and communication systems with the goal of providing sanctuary for military operations. Advances in autonomy for mobility and signal processing have enabled the advent of distributed systems for operations, sensing, and attack. The technologies for enabling higher levels of autonomy, the means to build trust in the autonomous systems, and the mechanisms to scale such autonomy and associated platforms are of interest. The technologies on how to address system failures and problems encountered by an autonomous system in an environment of limited communications are also of interest. Communications enable a large fraction of our modern lives with a direct tradeoff between trust in autonomous systems, training with respect to battle-management/command and control, and the capacity and robustness of our communication networks. Hardware and software efforts have created a robust eco-system of software defined radios across many of the radio frequency bands including highly directional radios. Other efforts have created adaptive gateways to bridge between highly disparate networks. STO is interested in new approaches to communication networks that are scalable for highly directional and widely disparate radio systems. STO understands that communications will be fleeting, at best, and thus a mission-level or information-centric approach for routing is needed. The potential for moving from end-point control to using intermediate gateways, routers, or end-points that can adapt to system/mission needs is of interest.
Areas that are of new interest come from STO’s broad span of research domains, which allow the office to rethink competition. The Department of Defense (DoD) has primarily focused on competition related to battlefield activities and to create asymmetries advantageous for U.S. forces. Recent world events have demonstrated the impact of other dimensions of competition such as economic, environmental, marketplace, and manufacturing. Therefore, STO is interested in technologies to create opportunities for asymmetries in these broad areas of competition. The goals of those asymmetries are to set favorable conditions and maximize optionality for infinite (versus finite, single-focus) contests that address these other dimensions. These infinite contests are highly complex and have significant ambiguity of state that require approaches similar to the observe–orient–decide–act (OODA) cycle. One approach may be developing a probe-sense-decide-adapt cycle. Technologies that may be applied to provide such capabilities include: active sensing, perturbation testing, active learning, experimental economics, and causal experiments. STO is interested in solutions and technologies that address alternative areas of competition that have impact for DoD missions. This includes the linkage between the competition area and the DoD mission, the desired asymmetry, and the technologies that can enable the asymmetry. Over the past three decades, commercial industry has monetized many technology areas that were originally the focus of the DoD. The impact of this has been significant and dominant level of resources for commercial research and development. STO is looking at the means to leverage these investments for DoD missions. STO is interested in the potential commercial systems, components, manufacturing processes, standards, and technologies that can be leveraged and/or augmented to provide new DoD capabilities for strategic surprise.
This RFI seeks responses that address several aspects:
1) List of the research areas each respondent can address to include the applicable physical domains.
2) Level of experience with technology transition and methods of technology adoption.
3) Clearance level of relevant classified facilities.