Funding agency: 
DARPA

The mission of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Defense Sciences Office (DSO) is to identify and create the next generation of scientific discovery by pursuing high-risk, high-payoff research initiatives across a broad spectrum of science and engineering disciplines and transforming these initiatives into disruptive technologies for U.S. national security. In support of this mission, the DSO Office-wide BAA invites proposers to submit innovative basic or applied research concepts that address one or more of the following technical domains: (1) Frontiers in Math, Computation and Design, (2) Limits of Sensing and Sensors, (3) Complex Social Systems, and (4) Anticipating Surprise. Each of these domains is described below and includes a list of example research topics that highlight several (but not all) potential areas of interest. Proposals must investigate innovative approaches that enable revolutionary advances. DSO is explicitly not interested in approaches or technologies that primarily result in evolutionary improvements to the existing state of practice.

Frontiers in Math, Computation & Design: The increasingly complex, technologically sophisticated, fast-paced and dynamic military operational environment imposes fundamental challenges in how we design and plan for future military needs. The DoD implications of these trends drive a need for new math, computation, and design tools that enable trusted decision making at increased speed and with known confidence levels. Topics of interest under this domain include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  1. mathematical, computational, and design frameworks and tools that provide robust solutions to challenging DoD problems such as planning, optimization, and platform design; 
  2. fundamental scientific underpinnings and limits of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI); and 
  3. alternative computing models, architectures, and substrates for faster, more robust decision making.

 Limits of Sensing & Sensors: Sensing and measurement of signals ranging from “DC to daylight” are ubiquitous to military systems and missions. Surveillance, navigation, warfighter health monitoring, and target ID/tracking are just a few examples of missions and/or applications that rely on various sensing modalities. Topics of interest under this domain include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  1. new sensing modalities, 
  2. fundamental sensing limits, 
  3. engineered materials that enable novel optics and imaging capabilities,
  4. fundamental and practical limits of quantum enabled sensing and metrology, and
  5. practical and deployable sensing and sensor designs.

 Complex Social Systems: Understanding social behavior and the dynamics of complex social networks is critically important for many military operations including stability, deterrence, compellence, counter-terrorism, shaping the environment, training, and mission planning. Additionally, increasingly robust machine capabilities in the form of automation, platforms, and artificial intelligence (AI) will fundamentally change how human teams frame problems, plan, and operate at tempo and manage complexity. Topics of interest under this domain include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  1. accurate and scientifically validated models of the social dynamics underlying different kinds of conflict; 
  2. capabilities to improve understanding of causality in complex social systems;
  3. artificial intelligence and other tools that enable improved humanmachine symbiotic decision-making; and 
  4. new concepts in war-gaming and simulations to identify and understand options for deterrence and stability operations. 

 Anticipating Surprise: Ultimately, the goal of DSO Research and Development (R&D) investments is to ensure that U.S. warfighters have access to the most advanced technologies. Research funded under this thrust area supports scientific and technological discovery that leads to “leap ahead” capabilities for enhanced military readiness across multiple operational domains. Example topics of interest under this domain include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  1. novel functional and structural materials and manufacturing processes; 
  2. materials for harshenvironments; 
  3. defense against Weapons of Mass Destruction/Weapons of Mass Terror (WMD/WMT) threats; 
  4. energetic materials; 
  5. new propulsion concepts; and 
  6. novel approaches to energy storage and power generation.
Deadline: 
June 12, 2020
Funding type: 
Faculty