Five Amazing DARPA Funded Projects
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency was created in the 1950s to deal with Russia and the cold war and they’ve had their hands in some pretty amazing things including one you might have heard of – the Internet.
The Robotic Hummingbird – AeroVironment, a California-based firm, developed what they are calling a Nano Hummingbird. Not only does it fly in a very similar way to the real thing but it comes complete with a tiny camera that streams live video. Perfect for military surveillance missions. The tiny robot can only stay inflight for about five minutes at a time right now but this is only the prototype. What did we learn here? If you have a hummingbird feeder and five years from now you notice a bird never drinks it’s probably a DARPA funded nano robot.
The Giant Air Hockey Table – To prove DARPA can have fun too they funded a 37-ton air hockey table! Now essentially that is what this is but in reality it’s not going to be used by giant teenagers at a gigantic arcade up the beanstalk. There is method to the madness here and DARPA doesn’t usually miss a trick! The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Spacecraft Engineering Department was commissioned to build this massive beast in order to test a new satellite docking system as this ridiculously large air hockey table, made out of granite, is frictionless so it can properly keep objects suspended in air thus simulating a zero-gravity atmosphere. In all actuality this leviathan is going to save the government millions by allowing NASA to conduct cheaper tests using cheaper scaled down prototypes before committing tens of millions to a new project.
The Powerstrip Hacker – Known as the Power Pwn and shipping out late September this power strip is not what it seems. Funded by DARPA and developed by Pwnie Express this harmless looking power strip is actually a self-contained hacking unit that launches remotely-activated Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Ethernet attacks. The CEO of Pwnie Express has stated that 90% of pre-orders for $1,295 per unit have been corporate and government. He didn’t mention what the other 10% of pre-orders are for but I suggest you pay close attention to every powerstrip in your office and ask yourself, “should that be there?”
The Robo Cheetah – DARPA enjoys its robots and I can understand why after watching the cheetah robot video. DARPA funded the project to create a robotic cheetah capable of one day running faster than its namesake and Boston Dynamics was up to the challenge. Right now the Robo Cheetah (my name for it) has been clocked going 18 miles per hour on a treadmill. It’s a far cry from the 70 mph the real large cat can go but according to Boston Dynamics they are not going to stop develop until they break the 70 mph point. Of course for DARPA the advancement in cyber mobility could have phenomenal military and medical applications.
The Toxic Mosquito Drones – Turns out the people at DARPA are not without a sense of humor. Say you want to inject enemies (or possibly even American citizens) with toxins or microscopic trackers what do you use? The same thing nature has used for thousands of years to inject mankind with toxins – the mosquito. With funding provided to them by DARPA the US Air Force has developed a tiny robot designed to mimic a mosquito right down to the nasty biological agent part. These metal mosquitoes can inject just about any toxin into a person without his or her knowledge. But why just use this incredible cyberionic nuisance to discreetly kill people when you could also use them to spy on people? These little drones have been developed to be quite flexible for use as either tiny digital spies or little assassins and no amount of Off! can save you!