Smart Robot Arms, Fast Vaccine Production, Nano Air Vehicles: DARPA Highlights
The DARPA Autonomous Robotic Manipulation (ARM) program is developing software that enables robots, given only high-level direction, to autonomously grasp, manipulate and perform complex tasks in unstructured environments. At the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, an ARM robot known as "Robbie" has been playing games with curious and intrigued visitors. The exhibit teaches visitors about how robotics can impact society and encourages young people to pursue careers in science and engineering. DARPA is also offering the public the opportunity to develop and test code to perform tasks in the robot simulator, then upload that code to an actual robot and watch it execute the task in real-time via the web.
For more information on the ARM program and how to participate in the Outreach Track, please visit www.theARMrobot.com
Project GreenVax is a research and development demonstration project funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and conducted by the Texas Plant-Expressed Vaccine Consortium located in Bryan, Texas. The goal of this project is to develop a capability to produce 1kg (or approximately 10 million doses) of a recombinant vaccine candidate protein in one month. To succeed in this effort, the project GreenVax team created numerous innovative solutions to maximize efficiencies to both their upstream and downstream processes including new lighting systems capable of doubling plant biomass generated and use of mobile Modular Bioprocessing Facilities, which provide the flexibility to manufacture multiple products at the same time. If this effort is successful, it could provide a strategic resource for the United States and its ability to rapidly produce medical countermeasures against any biothreat.
In 2005, DARPA announced the Nano Air Vehicle (NAV) program and its goal to develop agile and flyers system that could fit in one hand. This video chronicles the development of a "hummingbird" flyer by Aerovironment from concept to prototype demonstration and introduction to the public. A number of difficult design and engineering challenges were overcome in the course of the program, particularly in the wing structure, propulsion and control actuators. Numerous complete prototypes were built and tested to assess and improve the performance of the systems shown in the video. The final prototype achieves the noteworthy milestone of 2-wing flapping hovering and fast forward flight with all power sources on the aircraft and all controls implemented through modulation of the wing strokes in a shape that resembles a real hummingbird and carries and on-board camera that relays video to the pilot in real time.