Military Review

Fantastic DARPA Projects: From Mechanical Elephant to Giant Airship


Many military developments have practically grown out of the world of science fiction, becoming quite common things that we face every day today. Satellite navigation systems, robotic technology and the Internet, thanks to which you are reading this text, are just a few of the military developments that have become a reality and have become widespread in civilian life. At the same time, not all promising developments end with successful implementation, there are a lot of projects that DARPA specialists have not brought to their logical conclusion.

The annual budget of the US Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is estimated today at $ 3,427 billion (2019 data). The total number of employees is approximately 220 people. They are grouped into six technology offices, which together oversee and oversee about 250 military programs and research projects. Another name often found in the Russian-language press for DARPA is the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

At the same time, the sphere of interests of DARPA is very wide: from the human brain and its capabilities to space technologies. All research is aimed at keeping the US military at the forefront of technological progress. This is the main goal of the agency - to provide a leading position in research and development of military importance. The agency itself was founded on February 7, 1958 in response to the launch of the first Soviet artificial earth satellite, when it became obvious that the United States could concede to the USSR in the field of space research.

Former headquarters of DARPA

Thanks to a special regulatory regime, DARPA specialists can work more freely with innovations, without unnecessary bureaucracy and fears that research results will not be implemented or the results obtained will be unsatisfactory. This is what allows DARPA to take on the most fantastic projects, pushing the boundaries and giving room for ideas to the hands of scientists, engineers, researchers.

Self-repairing houses

The list of unusual DARPA projects can be endless. Over the decades, the Office has overseen a huge amount of research that would rival many contemporary pieces of science fiction or film art. An example of such a program can be called a project to create various infrastructure facilities that would repair themselves. The program is designated Engineered Living Materials (ELM). The aim of the program is to create materials that could be restored by themselves in the event of damage. As modern research moves forward in 3D printing of human organs and tissues, the Agency's experts expect to expand research to create hybrid materials that will support and shape the growth of artificially created cells.

The main purpose of the ELM program is to revolutionize all military logistics, especially in the field of construction in remote, harsh or dangerous regions by creating living biomaterials that would combine the structural properties of traditional building materials and living things. Including the ability to grow rapidly, adapt to the environment and self-heal. It would also make it possible to create objects of intellectual infrastructure that could dynamically respond to changes in the environment. Going forward, all the advances in the Engineered Living Materials program could also improve the way traditional military systems are produced and maintained, which include Tanks, warships and aircraft. So far, it is impossible to imagine even approximately when such a program could be implemented.

Laboratory blood

Blood Pharming is another promising DARPA program designed to solve important problems, including in the field of military medicine. The main goal of the program is to create red blood cells - erythrocytes in the laboratory. As noted on the official website of the Office for Advanced Study, erythrocytes are the most transfused blood product, including when receiving various injuries in combat conditions. Moreover, in a combat situation, such materials are often in limited quantities.

The Blood Pharming program should deal with this problem. In the future, it would find wide application in the civilian sphere.

It was planned to solve the problem by creating an automated system for culturing red blood cells from readily available cellular sources, which would provide a fresh supply of transfused red blood cells. In the long term, the program was supposed to eradicate the disadvantages of already existing methods of obtaining red blood cells, namely high cost, low production efficiency and process scalability. At the same time, pharmaceutical blood has a number of important advantages. Laboratory grown blood excludes the possibility of transmission of any diseases from the donor. Also, the problem of selecting the required blood group would be promptly resolved and the negative consequences of storing donated blood would be prevented.

However, the program announced in 2013 is hardly close to its completion. Before such laboratory blood becomes widely available, it is necessary to significantly reduce the cost of its production. As the DARPA website reported, within the framework of the program for the creation of pharmacological blood, the cost of producing a unit of the finished product was reduced from $ 90 thousand to $ 5 thousand. It is still very expensive. The program to create laboratory-modified erythrocytes will replace basic donor blood transfusions only if production costs are further reduced.

Mechanical elephants

Back in the 1960s, DARPA started thinking about creating unusual vehicles. The development of a mechanized elephant was prompted by the military operations in Vietnam. Elephants were chosen as a model, as these giants thrived in the jungle and could carry loads of large mass and size. And in the United States, various studies have indeed begun to create a mechanical elephant that would replace freight transport. Ultimately, this project to create an unusual mechanized transport for transporting heavy loads moved towards the creation of servo-driven legs. It looks like a bike, but when the director of DARPA found out that his subordinates were seriously working on such a project, he decided to quickly close it in the hope that Congress would not hear about the program and cut funding, having learned what the Agency was doing with taxpayer money.

Ultimately, what looked like a crazy fantasy in the 1960s has become a reality in the 3st century. DARPA is already working on a completely new level of mechanical means for transporting goods, now fully robotic. One such project is the robot mule infantry, for the creation of which is the responsibility of the company Boston Dynamics, famous for its robots. Samples of the support system, designated the Legged Squad Support System, are already being tested. The LS180 robot created within the framework of the project is able to carry up to XNUMX kg of various cargoes and can significantly facilitate the life of infantry formations by shouldering the tasks of logistic support of the troops on its metal shoulders.

Airships giants

Some of DARPA's fantastic projects seem to be like that, because they are not directed to the future, but to the past. For example, one of the agency's projects was the creation of a giant airship. The project remained unfulfilled, like many others, but work under the program called Walrus was actively funded by DARPA in the 2000s. This project was completely curtailed only in 2010. At the same time, in the United States, there are still other projects to revive airships, and not only as vehicles.

As part of the program, it was planned to revive the past giants. According to the Walrus project, it was supposed to create a huge airship that could carry 500-1000 tons of cargo over a distance of 22 thousand kilometers. As conceived by the developers, this would open up new opportunities for accelerated budgetary cargo transportation to the United States. The airship would find application both in the civilian sphere and in the military. It would transport a huge amount of troops, ammunition, uniforms and various equipment by air at minimal cost.
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  1. BDRM 667
    BDRM 667 31 October 2020 05: 57
    Fantastic projects DARPA

    "The road will be mastered by the walker"

    Something will turn out to be a dead end, a fantasy, unattainable at this level of knowledge and technology, something is a banal cut of funds, and some of the projects may "shoot", opening new horizons ...
    1. Lexus
      Lexus 31 October 2020 06: 00
      The defense has always been at the forefront of progress.
      1. Grandfather
        Grandfather 31 October 2020 06: 40
        There are a lot of projects that DARPA specialists have not brought to their logical conclusion.
        but "Skolkovo" always "brings the logical conclusion" ... wassat
        1. Lexus
          Lexus 31 October 2020 06: 44
          Only there they learned to make money invisible. request
          1. Blackmokona
            Blackmokona 31 October 2020 08: 40
            But what about stealth technology that made the results invisible?
            And the technology of invisibility of executors for the prosecutor's office?
            And much more
          2. Alien From
            Alien From 1 November 2020 17: 58
            Here you hit not the eyebrow but the eye!
      2. iouris
        iouris 31 October 2020 09: 51
        Quote: lexus
        The defense has always been at the forefront of progress.

        Not defense, but "offensive".
        As the saying goes, "it is necessary to understand" that the military-industrial complex is a system for the continuous creation of competitive advantages for US corporations at the expense of the US state budget (which, in principle, contradicts the US Constitution). Therefore, the US state is a continuous propaganda of a non-existent external threat to "US national security", a growing military budget, the creation and testing of new technologies in the armed forces in different climatic conditions, the threat of the use and application (projection) of military force, the robbery of other states through economic , non-economic, financial schemes, the introduction of technologies for the production of consumer goods, the promotion of their goods and the prohibition of the circulation of competitors' goods, profit fixation, etc.
        DARPA is a key link in setting goals and objectives.
    2. Generator Systems
      Generator Systems 31 October 2020 16: 30
      The guys are doing something new, it's not better to just be glad that at least someone is doing this
    3. Narak-zempo
      Narak-zempo 2 November 2020 14: 16
      Quote: BDRM 667
      "The road will be mastered by the walker"

      Rather, he went.
  2. Same lech
    Same lech 31 October 2020 06: 02
    Honestly, I envy scientists who have the opportunity to translate their ideas into reality without banging their foreheads against the wall of underfinancing and bureaucratic obstacles.
    1. Lexus
      Lexus 31 October 2020 06: 14
      Academician Kadyrov does not share your sadness.
      1. Same lech
        Same lech 31 October 2020 06: 17
        Academician Kadyrov does not share your sadness.

        And what about Academician Kadyrov a scientist?
        The prefix academician does not mean that this person is a scientist. hi ... I am absolutely indifferent to titles and regalia ... if a person has no talent in some area, his regalia do not mean anything ... even if he is hung with them to the navel.
        1. Lexus
          Lexus 31 October 2020 06: 19
          Your words to the "hanger" and in the ears. hi
    2. gridasov
      gridasov 31 October 2020 14: 02
      At the same time, I personally understand the depths of the reformation of the entire civilization with new fundamental discoveries, and newer problems. Therefore, they restrain themselves in the desire to engage in further development, although the absence of progress only removes our demise in time. The need for new techniques for working with big data arose as an identity of survival
  3. Kote Pan Kokhanka
    Kote Pan Kokhanka 31 October 2020 08: 47
    Sergey, thank you so much on “sour Saturday weekend” !!!
  4. gridasov
    gridasov 31 October 2020 09: 46
    Attempts to develop the topic of big data analysis based on new fundamental principles have no response even in Darra. By
    Therefore, it can be assumed that they also have a borderline level of understanding of the prospects of these or other developments. Most of their projects, if not all, have a traditional level of intellectual approach.
  5. da Vinci
    da Vinci 31 October 2020 09: 58
    Eh, Chm0baisa used them there, in the leaders !!!!
  6. gridasov
    gridasov 31 October 2020 10: 21
    I am absolutely sure that until a person learns to artificially form the intellectual potential of the brain, it is necessary to find and involve people gifted with natural intelligence in cooperation. Such people do not see the objectivity of perceived phenomena, but their algorithmically related processality - in their optimal and rational form. That ultimately determines the depth of knowledge and understanding of the subject of research. Modern methods of teaching and creating a massive so-called. Scientists Do Not Provide Comprehensive Results
    1. iouris
      iouris 31 October 2020 16: 36
      Quote: gridasov
      it is necessary to seek and attract people gifted with natural intelligence to cooperation

      Who needs them? Only transnational corporations that are based on the US budget. And even then as labor migrants. And the "successor of the USSR" ruined his future with great enthusiasm. "Not profitable to produce" - no need for enterprises, workers, technicians, engineers, scientific schools, scientists, universities, schools, kindergartens, teachers, teachers, educators, books, cartoons, educational toys ... End of history,
      1. gridasov
        gridasov 31 October 2020 16: 47
        I don't think everyone thinks that way. Especially the younger generation. They do not care who and why robbed their own people and that in general he is such. Therefore, there is a need for precise and clear decisions in analysis and constructive decisions, etc.
        1. iouris
          iouris 31 October 2020 16: 53
          Quote: gridasov
          there is a need for precise and clear decisions and for analysis and design decisions

          "Needs" arise depending on the goal. No goal, no system.
          After Stalin's death, the "Leninist Politburo" formulated a goal: the fullest possible satisfaction of the material and spiritual needs of the Soviet people. And that's all. Kaput. "We caught up with America in terms of milk yield, but we didn't catch up with meat ... horseradish broke in the bull"
          1. gridasov
            gridasov 31 October 2020 17: 29
            Alas, I believe that the real goals were not voiced or were veiled by other slogans. The people were told what they wanted to hear. Now the goal is to preserve the complex of values ​​inherent in the people and to preserve the achievements of the powerful Elites. Now there is a defense of the Slavic civilization
  7. Brylevsky
    Brylevsky 31 October 2020 11: 31
    lood Pharming is another promising DARPA program designed to solve important problems, including in the field of military medicine. The main goal of the program is to create red blood cells - erythrocytes in the laboratory. As noted on the official website of the Office for Advanced Study, erythrocytes are the most transfused blood product, including when receiving various injuries in combat conditions. Moreover, in a combat situation, such materials are often in limited quantities.

    "Perftoran", USSR, 1979 - 1997 Perfluorocarbon blood-substituting drug. Not "artificial erythrotiz", but saved lives in the war. Produced and sold. The only significant limitation on use is specific storage conditions.
    1. gridasov
      gridasov 31 October 2020 11: 50
      To create a real substitute for blood means to create all the necessary functions of it. Therefore, the question is not in the blood itself, but in all aspects of its functionality. It means that it is necessary to change the method of solving the problem.
  8. WayKheThuo
    WayKheThuo 31 October 2020 11: 43
    I don’t know about many projects, but I’ll say about Boston Dynamics - you don’t need such an assistant for nothing, because it makes noise, puffs, unmasks, is difficult to operate and in general ...
    But! DARPA is a great idea to attract really working people, and I think in 50 years or so, maybe even earlier they will achieve real results that can qualitatively change the world, for themselves, of course.
    By the way, if the DRAPA budget is 3,4 billion Baku, then, as of 2019, the budget all of our science was about 5.6 billion ( at the rate of 75.
    So it goes.
    1. Proctologist
      Proctologist 31 October 2020 13: 58
      Well, the plane of the Wright brothers also looked like some kind of ridiculous bookcase, but here you go ... I see no fundamental reason why a walking structure should make more noise than a wheeled or tracked structure. Perhaps the engine power is needed more to carry the same weight, but it is not fundamentally necessary to make noise. In the meantime, algorithms of walking robots, kinematics of steps, materials are being worked out - all this can be used when compact quiet power plants appear. Prototypes of Boston Dynamics in general with wired power supply, the development of other technologies, except for the engine, is not a hindrance.
      1. gridasov
        gridasov 31 October 2020 15: 17
        The problem with walking robots is that there is no solution in what a person uses as a muscle. That is, what is both energy and motor function. Sorry, I can't write the correct letter instead of the letter e. Glitchy.
        1. Local from the Volga
          Local from the Volga 31 October 2020 21: 22
          An old typewriter "Adler" was bought at the bazaar, which lacked the letter "e" and had to be replaced with the letter "e". Therefore, the very first attitude Ostap sent to the stationery store sounded like this:

          “Let the podatel sego to the courier comrade Panikovsky for the Black Sea department for 150 rubles (one hundred and fifty dollars) of stationery in credit at the expense of the Board of Governors in the city of Arbatove.

          Applications: basic applications ".

          - That god sent the fool the commissioner for hooves! - Ostap was angry. - You can't charge anything. I bought a typewriter with a Turkish accent, so I'm the head of the department? You pig, Shura, after that!
    2. garri-lin
      garri-lin 31 October 2020 15: 13
      MekhMula criticize in vain. The infantry dreams of such an assistant throughout its history. One problem remains to be solved for the last day. Energy source. And there will be a great platform.
    3. Cetron
      Cetron 31 October 2020 22: 25
      To create a mechanical skeleton is not a problem, to create a motion algorithm program too. The problem is in artificial muscles, now they use hydro, pneumatic or servo drives. They do not provide accuracy and speed of movement. There will be muscle, there will be walking, jumping, running, crawling, floating and possibly flying robots.
      1. gridasov
        gridasov 1 November 2020 11: 00
        But the solution is so simple that it will make you smile. The problem is thinking.
  9. Generator Systems
    Generator Systems 31 October 2020 16: 28
    Now I will follow these guys
    1. eklmn
      eklmn 31 October 2020 19: 12
      "Now I will follow these guys"
      I have been following and admiring them for a couple of decades, I even bought a book about them. And all that is needed is knowledge of English.
      Here are just 10 DARPA projects:
      2. Windows, the World Wide Web (WWW) and video conferencing
      3. Google Map
      4. Siri - The Siri voice recognition system built into the latest iPhone was born out of DARPA research.
      5. Unix and Cloud File Storage Design
      6. GPS
      7. Urban Photonic Sandtable Display
      8. The Lighthouse Project - Arbor Networks is well known as a leading security company specializing in the prevention of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.
      9. Internet anonymity
      10. The fastest aircraft in the world - Falcon HTV-2, speed 20M or 14 thousand miles per hour.
      If you are interested in technology, you will say that all these novelties were invented and created in other organizations and universities, and you will be right!
      The idea of ​​creating DARPA is to distribute your money for new products / technologies / ideas that scientists in universities, students, in military laboratories have. DARPA allocates money for ideas, and this money is not always returned to the idea. But this is science, even a negative result is useful for learning. Look at the DARPA website - there are about 300 scientific areas, each (or several) is led by a scientist_doctor, and these leaders are looking for fantastic ideas in all universities in the country and are not afraid to invest in them.
      You, knowing English, will be amazed at the breadth of the range of scientific developments DARPA, all the information on their website, and very interestingly described!
      1. gridasov
        gridasov 31 October 2020 20: 16
        Here is only a very small part of them of interest. For example there is a very important topic like optimizing the distribution of large data. Data must be mathematized and a mathematical and non-breaking space must be built. And what is most important, all data should be interconnected with other structural components and in such a way that during the transformation of the structure, the space does not lose its continuity. In other words, it is necessary to combine mathematical concepts with physical concepts, etc. And they are at a dead end!
        1. eklmn
          eklmn 31 October 2020 20: 44
          “Here is only a very small part of them of interest. "
          Who are “them”?

          “... For example there is a very important topic like optimizing the distribution of large data. "
          "... And they are at a dead end!"
          I am not an expert on "data", "transformations", etc., I can object to the information that is on the DARPA website. If I mean DARPA is at a standstill, then on the DARPA website in Search I typed “optimization of large data distribution” and received 69 articles with a mention.
          Rummage through these articles (I'm a weakling), maybe you will find something interesting for yourself ...!
          1. gridasov
            gridasov 31 October 2020 22: 53
            Nothing!!! Everything is based on binary logic and computational mathematics. I would not want to offend anyone, but weakly
            1. eklmn
              eklmn 1 November 2020 00: 13
              "I would not want to offend anyone, but weakly"
              You won't offend anyone if you say that DARPA has no such jobs. This means that they invested in the other 200-something-directions, but not in this one. They also invest in what they consider to be something “unknown novelty”, and optimization of large data distribution is decided in civil society and, for sure, very successfully (judging by the economic development smile ).
              1. gridasov
                gridasov 1 November 2020 09: 53
                Everything is very simple! Optimization processes for the distribution of large data directly depend on the fundamental properties of the number. And modern mathematics uses exclusively the variable function of the value of a number. That is, the number is transformed in its meaning by the processes of differentiation and integration, etc. But the whole secret is that the number also has a function of the constant value of the number. And it is this property of the number that allows one to build an algorithmically connected and non-discontinuous mathematical space. With this mathematical technology, the numerical streams initially form a system of variant combinations of interrelated events, and the vector and potential are displayed by the essence of the numerical streams themselves. That is, the error of construction and the optimal density of codes does not lie not in the process of correction, but initially in the very organization of construction. It remains only to transform the electromagnetic pulse into the direct value of a number, so that the computer works not on binary logic and binary code, but in fact without mathematics, but on numbersx-performing and the function of the code constructed on the nat numbers. A number of. So it doesn't take a lot of effort to see what kind of mathematical tool Americans are using to optimize data.
                1. eklmn
                  eklmn 1 November 2020 17: 37
                  Dear gridasov!
                  "Everything is very simple! "- that's just what I understood from your comment. Everything else is much higher than my pension level, sorry. If the Americans lagged behind in the direction you described, then it is so! When it feels like it, then get busy. If you are talking about hardware, a computer that can do calculations on your model, and if it's quantum, there are 1667 articles on the DARPA site. Unfortunately, your interlocutor cannot help you ...
                  1. gridasov
                    gridasov 1 November 2020 21: 23
                    I would like to note that the analysis technology offered by me is not an end in itself and not an invention from the ceiling. It was created to solve those problems that cannot be solved with modern methods. And I'm talking about the technology of analysis of high-potential and high-dynamic transformations of such physical processes that cannot be analyzed by computational methods. And everything is quite simple in the sense that they can solve problems, for example, the analysis of turbulent processes and please. But they can't.
  10. ycuce234-san
    ycuce234-san 31 October 2020 22: 23
    Walrus is apparently very close to being implemented. Now there are metamaterials of the "black silicon" type, which very strongly absorb thermal radiation and therefore well insulate and heat the air inside the balloon from solar radiation and burners, making it easier to fly. (The sun in thermal collectors is now little by little used even in cold regions, for example) - it’s even interesting whether such a device can fly using the night infrared radiation of the planet, the ocean. There was once such a device - an ALA-40 thermoplane.
    And because of the super-large carrying capacity, airships can become the first real air vehicle with a nuclear reactor.
    1. gridasov
      gridasov 31 October 2020 22: 58
      Everything that is created in the conditions of the atmosphere will not work in space and other conditions. And the main thing here is the ionization processes
      1. ycuce234-san
        ycuce234-san 1 November 2020 13: 22
        Space has nothing to do with it. These are the very properties of the metamaterial such that it very strongly absorbs heat rays and emits them poorly - if you make a heat-resistant, for example, silicone film or paint varnish from it, you can get a balloon heated from the sun and night surface, a mushroom greenhouse, a shed roof with automatic snow melting, a good solar collector or heat pump, air conditioner, industrial film thermos container, etc. In space, respectively, and where it makes sense, you can exchange solar cells for thermocouples.
        1. gridasov
          gridasov 1 November 2020 14: 00
          Space is very much to do with it! Without understanding the properties of the external environment, it is impossible to model the parameters of both material and substance. Everything is in electromagnetic interaction.
  11. Ham
    Ham 1 November 2020 12: 05
    in terms of sawing the dough, they really have no equal ...
    all these projects either remained unfinished or were produced in single copies ... and for their mass production, trillions more are needed ... but local fans are still delighted with puppyhood;)
  12. Narak-zempo
    Narak-zempo 2 November 2020 14: 24
    We are waiting for a symmetrical review about Skolkovo.
  13. vonWolfenstein
    vonWolfenstein 10 November 2020 18: 31
    Looking at the photo of the airship from this article, you involuntarily recall the Kirov airship from Red Alert "Kirov reporting" !!! And they could be used wherever. for policemen - supervision over the city, forester and forest protection - the same observation and extinguishing fires. Tourist airships ...
  14. Reserve buildbat
    Reserve buildbat 2 December 2020 12: 34
    "The annual budget of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is estimated today at $ 3,427 billion (data for 2019). The total number of employees is approximately 220 people. They are grouped into six technology offices, which together oversee and oversee about 250 programs and scientific military developments. "

    There are definitely no typos? 220 people for 250 programs with o = annual budget of 3,427 yards of greenery?