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Top Five Coolest DARPA Programs

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February 6, 2017
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DARPA - the name conjures images of a supervillain group that lives on some isolated volcanic island attempting to take over the world. If you are familiar with the name, you might think of mad scientists in a dark laboratory. The reality is, they are more eggheaded and nerdy, like “Q” from the Bond films. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has been around since 1958 when it was founded as a response to the Russian launch of Sputnik. Their mission is simple - they commission the study and research of advanced (futuristic) Department of Defense projects. Their goal is to help America keep its technological advantage on the battlefield. Late one night after having a few pints, I stumbled upon their website (the exciting life of someone living alone in their 30’s). These are the five coolest current DARPA projects that were found.

1.) Gremlins

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darpa.mil[/caption]If you are thinking little green monsters that are the spawn of Gizmo dropped in a glass of water- wrong! Think UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems)- flying robotic drones. These guys will be able to increase air power WITHOUT putting additional pilots at risk. How? By being launched at a safe distance from fixed aircraft, they are meant to fly unassisted, conduct missions, and be picked up by C-130 aircraft upon return. The key word there is "return," which according to Chris Pehrson is “the DARPA-hard part.” As of September 2016, their plan is to use “a mechanical arm that comes down and grabs it...It’s almost like a Transformer-type thing.”

2.) GXV-T

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darpa.mil[/caption]Before reading watch this video. Go ahead; we'll wait here.

Are you back? Ok, that 990’s era CGI video to a generic Tron soundtrack shows what the GXV-T will be like (seriously, $2.97 billion dollar budget and this is the best computer animation they could get?). That dune buggy looking thing is going to be 50% lighter, 100% faster, with 50% less crew, while handling 95% of terrain. The adaptive armor is going to react and adjust in real time to attacks while adding another innovation; a virtual reality instrument panel."The development of virtual window technology is a significant shift in the concept of design for military ground vehicles. No longer would drivers of these ground vehicles need to rely on the view through the windows alone; this technology would provide them with improved awareness that could impact the survivability of a new, more agile ground vehicle solution," said Carey Smith, president of Defense and Space at Honeywell Aerospace.

3.) VTOL-X plane

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darpa.mil[/caption]Basically, a Blackhawk helicopter got drunk and mated with an F-22. The VTOL-X is meant to be a “cross-pollination between the fixed-wing and rotary-wing worlds.” Entering Phase II (development of a working design) in 2016, this is new aircraft will revolutionize short take-offs and landings. It will be more efficient, faster, and able to carry more loads. Currently, there are limitations on fixed wing aircraft speed, and this is meant to break those barriers.

4.) Biochronicity

An obscure German Heavy Metal band, or a secret DARPA project? The answer is the latter (but the former sounds like a good show). We know how your liver takes that last shot of Jameson and makes you think the girl at the end of the bar is the doppelganger for Kate Upton. The real question is WHEN that happens within your body. This project is looking to unlock that internal body clock, and be able to PREDICT when that change will occur. The result would be the ability to know when diseases and old age will occur, prevent them, and keep military personnel performing at peak ability for longer.

5.) Blue Wolf

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militaryaerospace.com[/caption]The Warm up band for Biochronicity!!! Also, another unmanned vehicle program being funded by DARPA.This time it's for the Navy, which right now has severe limitations in terms of operational capabilities of their unmanned drones underwater. This project seeks to change and expand on those capabilities. The aim is to go deeper, longer, and faster… get your mind out of the gutter. Still there? Fine - how about science babble; they're looking to increase hydrodynamic lift while reducing drag and increasing efficiency.Try turning that one dirty, devil dog Dave.

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