DARPA Trying To Find Technology Unknown Unknowns

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is looking for feats of technological improvisation (H/T Adam Savage).  It recently released a Broad Agency Announcement on the “Improv” program, seeking “innovative research proposals for prototype products and systems that have the potential to threaten current military operations, equipment, or personnel and are assembled primarily from commercially available technology.”

The novelty of the program is two-fold, arguably.  First is the goal of seeking disruptive outcomes of using commercially available technology.  The second novel aspect is the broad audience for the program.  The agency is not only looking for proposals from the usual sets of technical experts (credentialed folks), but from all who might have expertise in utilizing commercial technologies and other low-cost tools for technology development.  In other words, hobbyists and makers who could make things that might get them in trouble should consider making a proposal to DARPA.

(I will note that the proposal notes that the proposed technologies must be made in ways that do not run afoul of local and federal laws and regulations.  It’s the nasty, unanticipated applications that might otherwise get the creator in trouble.)

The program will take place in multiple phases.  Those who submit a proposal could be awarded $40,000 for initial development.  Depending on the outcome, additional funding may be available.

Initial proposals are due by 5 p.m. on May 25.


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