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Robotic Hummingbirds, Neural-Interface Technologies: DARPA Makes Its 2012 Budget Request

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Newscom

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  • Reliable Neural-Interface Technology (RE-NET) ($24.5 million) This project will "develop the technology needed to reliably extract information from the [human] nervous system." While it may sound nefarious, the research actually focuses on helping enable the design of better prosthetic limbs that could interface directly with the human nervous system.

  • Cyber Camouflage, Concealment, and Deception (C3D) ($15.8 million) How can you conceal a computer network from enemy hackers? C3D "will develop novel approaches for protecting cyber systems that mimic camouflage concealment, and deception in the physical world."

  • XTIM ($8 million) Knowing the exact position of military satellites is key, but it can be a challenge keeping track of your eyes-in-the-sky as they speed around the Earth at thousands of miles per hour. Project XTIM seeks to use pulsars -- dense stars that emit huge amounts of radiation -- to pinpoint exactly where its satellites are. "XTIM will create a truly autonomous and universal time reference for military navigation and communication needs."

  • Small Rugged Reactor Technologies ($10 million) Wired's Danger Room blog noticed this program earlier Friday. With the high cost of transporting traditional fuels across battlefields, DARPA wants to develop mini-nuclear reactors to create completely self-sufficient bases.

  • Machine Reading and Reasoning Technology ($29.8 million) IBM has its Watson supercomputing answer-machine, and it looks like the military wants one of for its own use. "Such technologies will provide DoD decision makers with rapid, relevant knowledge from a broad spectrum of sources that may be dynamic and/or inconsistent."

  • [Micro-]Propulsion Science ($10 million) With the introduction of ever smaller unmanned air and sea vehicles, there is a need to shrink the power-supplies for these ultra-small devices. With suggestions for "biomimetic" systems, the next time you see a robotic hummingbird flying around you, you'll know it was likely sent by DARPA.