Four Visions Of The Future From DARPA’s Latest Report Card

Like a science fair for the next century’s wars

Bomber With Long Range Anti-Ship Missile

Bomber With Long Range Anti-Ship Missile

U.S. Air Force Photo

Yesterday, DARPA released their latest vision for the future. As the far-seeing technological eye of the Defense Department, DARPA’s had its hand in everything from the launch of stealth fighter jets to the birth of the Internet. So when they predict the future, it’s likely they’re in a place to make that future come true. Here are four future technologies the DARPA report highlights, which we can expect to see in the battlefields of the future.

Merging Man And Machine

Merging Man And Machine

DARPA is frequently looking to bridge the gap between humans and machines. The agency already has had some success with neural implants and prosthetic limbs, and they plan on building from there. The graphic above shows the Electrical Prescriptions (ElectRx, pronounced "electrics") program, which aims to create miniature implantable devices that monitor the interface between nerves and organs. The devices could monitor a veteran's health and, when needed, stimulate those organs into doing their jobs better. Think of it as a pacemaker, but for organs beyond the heart.DARPA
Freaking Underwater Drone Pods

Freaking Underwater Drone Pods

"Underwater Falling Payloads" sounds like an acid-rock band name, if the band consisted entirely of missile designers. (Hey, stranger things have happened.) In reality, it's a DARPA program for underwater drone pods that lay dormant and concealed in the deep sea for years, ready to launch upwards into the sky at the Navy's command. The focus is presently on non-lethal payloads, but when the basic premise is "hide military robots underwater," maybe it's okay to hold off on a second Bond villain idea (i.e. secret missiles) until later.DARPA Concept Art
Plane Launched Satellites

Plane-Launched Satellites

Drones from under the sea not enough? How about launching satellites from the bellies of fighter jets straight into space? Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) could save on the cost of small satellite launches by putting them in rockets attached to existing multi-million dollar fighter jets. Phase two of testing is set to finish in 2015.DARPA Concept Art
Long Range Anti-Ship Missile

Long Range Anti-Ship Missile

Sometimes, the link between technology and military applications is complicated, like developing a new synthetic material to improve computer technology. Sometimes, like with the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM), it's very, very straightforward: there are ships that are far away, and we want a missile that can blow them up. The program began in 2009, and DARPA expects the military to have it on hand and ready for use in 2018.U.S. Air Force Photo