Wednesday, November 04, 2009

DARPA

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency DARPA is a most unique agency. In contrast to other agencies and commercial firms they are blessed with the freedom to fail.

Although this might sound odd, this approach, and of course the associated budget, are making the impossible possible. DARPA is a frontier in innovative technology with breakthroughs in many different fields of military and other technology.

Created in 1958, DARPA has been responsible for early research and development of experimental airplanes, stealth technology such as multifaceted surfaces, radar-absorbent materials, infrared shielding and heat dissipation. They were pioneer in missile technology, target acquisition systems, guiding radar and Laser systems. DARPA is involved in new material technologies for fighter aircraft and special radars for UAV's (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles). Satellites are another field of interest for DARPA.

Often, research and prototypes failed. These failing projects however were often the cradle for new technologies and materials, which were developed as a part of these projects. Sometimes, they developed things that would not be applicable untile many years after. They invented the future, so to speak.

But who can explain this better than DARPA. The 14 page paper Fifty Years of Inventing the Future is a good overview of DARPA's history from 1958 to 2008. In the Multimedia section of their Newsroom there's a great 25 minutes documentary on the history of DARPA in three parts: part 1, part 2 and part 3 (worthwhile downloading by right-clicking the links). More interesting information is found on DARP's history page and their video page. They also have a News Section and a PodCast with downloadable mp3 interviews about DARPA projects

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