March 10th, 2014
09:21 AM ET

What time is it really?

Currently, the source for precision time is GPS satellites which contain an atomic clock used to synchronize clocks on the ground. But the Pentagon worries the satellites could somehow be jammed. So they want an even more accurate alternative.

Barbara Starr reports.

Filed under: DARPA • Pentagon
Robotic “cheetah” sets new speed record
September 6th, 2012
05:46 PM ET

Robotic “cheetah” sets new speed record

The fastest robot ever, dubbed "Cheetah," just zoomed past its own speed record and surpassed the fastest known human dash, clocking 28.3 mph during a treadmill test.

Cheetah's previous record speed was 18 mph, according to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the military's research-and-development arm.


Usain Bolt set the world record for human speed when he reached 27.28 mph for a 20-meter split during a 100-meter sprint, according to the International Association of Athletics Federations. While reveling in the record, the research agency threw Bolt a bone, admitting the Cheetah had a slight advantage as it ran on a treadmill.

The agency has worked with Boston Dynamics on the Cheetah to create legged robots that "don't sacrifice speed for mobility on rough terrain," it said.

The high-speed running bot will be tested on natural terrain next year.

If Cheetah the bot, however, were to meet the animal it was designed after, there is no question which would win in a race.

Real cheetahs can run faster than any other land animal, regularly clocking as fast as 60 mph in short bursts. Their robotic cousin still has a way to go to beat that pace.

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Filed under: DARPA
August 15th, 2012
02:41 PM ET

Air Force's hypersonic test fails

By Mike Mount

A hypersonic aircraft launched by the Air Force Tuesday spiraled out of control and was destroyed before it could reach its goal of speeding to 4,600 mph, Pentagon officials said Wednesday.

The third test of the X-51A Waverider was launched Tuesday off the California coast from a B-52 modified bomber aircraft and was to fly for 300 seconds, reaching hypersonic speeds of Mach 6, but only flew for 16 seconds, according to the Air Force.

Officials said a problem with a tail fin caused the missile-like vehicle to fly out of control before the main engine could be ignited, leading researchers to destroy it early. FULL POST

August 14th, 2012
01:00 AM ET

Imagine flying from New York to London in under an hour

By Mike Mount, CNN Senior National Security Producer

Perhaps Han Solo said it best in Star Wars when, describing his hyper-fast smuggling spaceship the Millennium Falcon, he said, "It may not look like much, but it's got it where it counts."

While the Air Force might take exception to being likened to the Falcon, in reality the platypus-nosed X-51A Waverider hypersonic flight test vehicle really doesn't look like much. But it definitely has it where it counts.

On Tuesday, the unmanned 25-foot-long vehicle will be dropped off of the wing of a converted B-52 bomber off the California coast and try to fly for 300 seconds at science fiction-like speeds of Mach 6, over 4,500 mph - fast enough to fly from New York to London in less than an hour.


Skin-peeling speed doomed hypersonic glider, U.S. says
April 23rd, 2012
12:06 AM ET

Skin-peeling speed doomed hypersonic glider, U.S. says

By Larry Shaughnessy

A test flight of an aircraft designed to whip around the world at Mach 20 failed when the high speeds peeled the skin off the unmanned plane, Pentagon researchers conclude in a long-awaited report.

For nine minutes in August, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency flew its Hypersonic Technology Vehicle at speeds reaching 20 times the speed of sound - fast enough to fly from New York to Los Angeles in less than 12 minutes. But then, something went wrong, and DARPA is finally explaining what happened.

"The most probable cause of the HTV-2 Flight 2 premature flight termination was unexpected aeroshell degradation," the research group explained in a new statement on the test flight.

Translation: The unmanned glider was streaking through the atmosphere when its outer skin started to rip off the airframe.


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Filed under: DARPA
February 7th, 2012
04:36 PM ET

Meet the mule-bot

By Jennifer Rizzo

The military's tech incubator has revealed its latest effort to perfect a robotic beast of burden.

The LS3, which has been in development since 2010, is being built to carry heavy loads for troops in the field, and the Defense Department's research and development arm has for the first time released footage of the new mule-like robot in action.

Designed to carry 400 pounds of equipment, travel up to 20 miles at a time, and move at speeds as fast as 10 mph, the LS3 is meant to fit into a Marine or Army unit in a "natural way," the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency said in a news release.

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Filed under: DARPA • Defense Spending • Military • Technology
Next war could be a click away
CNN Photo
November 7th, 2011
10:27 PM ET

Next war could be a click away

By Senior National Security Producer Larry Shaughnessy

DARPA, the agency that really did invent the Internet, is now looking at ways the Web might be used to fight the next war.

DARPA stands for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a Pentagon office that researches everything from cutting-edge cybersecurity to hypersonic airplanes.

The agency's director, Regina Dugan, told a gathering of cybersecurity experts Monday that "DARPA will focus an increasing portion of our cyber research on the investigation of offensive capabilities to address military specific needs."

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Filed under: Budget • Cybersecurity • DARPA • Homeland Security • Spying • weapons
October 21st, 2011
06:00 AM ET

Military to take recycling to new heights

From CNN National Security Producer Jennifer Rizzo

The military wants to start a recycling program. In space.

Some 25,000 miles above the Earth lies a satellite graveyard, the resting place for out-of-commission satellites.

The military's research branch is announcing the Phoenix program to find a way to use parts from these retired satellites, especially components like expensive antennas that are often in good working order well after the satellites are retired.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency estimates about 100 of the junkyard satellites, both military and commercial, may have parts that can be repurposed, according to David Barnhart, the agency's program manager.

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Filed under: DARPA
The drone with a death wish
October 19th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

The drone with a death wish

By CNN National Security Producer Jennifer Rizzo

There's a new drone on the block with a new mission - a suicide mission.

Part missile, part intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tool, the new drone locks on its enemy target and crashes into it, delivering a lethal attack.

Some are dubbing it the "kamikaze drone." The drone's maker, AeroVironment, is calling it the Switchblade. The Army awarded the company a contract worth almost $5 million for the system, according to a news release on the company's website.

The Army purchased "a limited quantity" of the Switchblade to "support an urgent operation," according to an Army statement.

The Army would not give any further details on quantities, fielding locations, dates and units involved "to protect operational security."  Bloomberg News reported Wednesday the Army had already used the drone against Taliban targets in Afghanistan.

"The Switchblade is designed to provide the warfighter with a 'magic bullet,'" the website says.

The unmanned aerial vehicle UAV can be launched from a tube small enough to be carried in a backpack, according to the company. Like a Switchblade knife, once removed from its container the drone's wings extend from its body. FULL POST

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Filed under: DARPA • drones • Military • weapons
Military turns to home hobbyists for drone's future
October 13th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

Military turns to home hobbyists for drone's future

By CNN National Security Producer Jennifer Rizzo

The military's research branch is turning to the public for the next "big idea" on small drones.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARPA, is hosting a competition called UAVForge, in which the public is invited to submit designs for small unmanned air vehicles.

An estimated 10,000 amateur drone hobbyists are in the United States, according to Wired Magazine's editor-in-chief and DIY Drones co-founder, Chris Anderson.

DARPA's tapping into that market, saying it is calling "on innovators of every kind; scientists, engineers, citizen scientists and dreamers," according to its website.

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Filed under: DARPA • drones • Military
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