The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Defense responsible for the development of new technologies.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is part of the United States Department of Defense making "pivotal investments in breakthrough technologies for national security".

Dwight D. Eisenhower created the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) on February 7, 1958 in response to the Soviet Union's successful launch of the first satellite into earth's orbit, Sputnik 1, in 1957. The successful launch of Sputnik 1 caught the US government and president Eisenhower off guard. Eisenhower went on to say that ARPA was created to "prevent technological surprise".

ARPA would later be renamed to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in 1972. DARPA was briefly became ARPA again from 1993-1996, before adopting DARPA again in 1996. According to the Deputy Secretary of Defense at the time, William Perry, DAPRA adopted it's former name ARPA to "expand the agency's mission to pursue imaginative and innovative research and development projects having significant potential for both military and commercial (dual-use) applications."

Technologies developed by DARPA

Since the founding of DARPA in 1958, the agency has been responsible for developing several important technologies. Notable technologies developed, or helped, by DARPA include: the internet, graphical user interfaces (GUIs), the weather satellite, interactive maps (Example: Google Maps), voice-recognition systems (Example: Amazon's Alexa and Apple's Siri), Unix, cloud computing, and Global Positioning Systems (GPS).


Living Foundries

This program seeks to enhance national defense through improving the synthetic biology capabilities of the United States of America. The living foundries program consists of two primary programs: 1. Living foundries: Advanced Tools and Capabilities for Generalizable Platforms (ATCG), and 2. Living Foundries: 1000 Molecules.


August 1, 1960

Success of the Corona program

The Corona photo-reconnaissance program was a joint spy satellite program between ARPA and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). A satellite from the program successfully took and delivered photos to the United States government that were taken over the Soviet Union, providing military intelligence during the Cold War until the program was decommissioned in 1972.

Image taken by the Corona photo-reconnaissance program.

April 1, 1960

Launch of first weather satellite (TIROS)

ARPA in partnership with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), U.S. Defense Department, and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) worked together on the Television and Infrared Observations Satellites (TIROS) program to develop and successfully launch the worlds first weather satellite into orbit.

Animation of the TIROS satellite.

January 1, 1960

Establishment of the scientific field of material science

ARPA announced in the first three materials science and engineering contracts to their own Interdisciplinary Laboratory (IDL) program. The IDL program continued issuing new material science contracts until 1972 when the National Science Foundation took over the program changing its name to the Materials Research Laboratories (MRL) program.

January 1, 1959

Electronically Steered Array Radar (ESAR) program

ARPA pioneers supporting technologies and construction of the first ground-based phased array radars.

Photo of a ground-based phased array radar made by ARPA.

October 4, 1957

The Sputnik surprise and creation of ARPA

The Soviet Union (USSR) successfully launches the worlds first satellite into orbit, surprising the United States government. This event ultimately lead to the creation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) on February 7, 1958 with the goal of keeping the United States the global technological superpower.



Andreas Olofsson

Program Manager

Aratl Prabhakar


Brian M. Pierce

Deputy Director of Information Innovation Office

Dan Kaufman


Daniel Wattendorf

Program Manager

Jerome Dunn

Program Manager

Justin Sanchez

Program Manager

Paul Tighman

Program Manager of Microsystems Technology Office

Peter Hihgnam

Deputy Director

Stefanie Tompkins

Acting Deputy Director

Steven H. Walker


Timothy Chung

Program Manager

Tyler McQuade

Deputy Director of Defense Sciences Office

William Chappell

Director of Microsystems Technology Office

Further reading


"Special Forces" Innovation: How DARPA Attacks Problems

Regina E. Dugan and Kaigham J. Gabriel

Web article

DARPA To Fund New AI Concepts With Millions

Sam Shead

News article

DARPA's Biotech Chief Says 2017 Will "Blow Our Minds"

Dina Fine Maron

Web article

Drones Recharged by a Laser Could Fly Forever

Kyle Mizokami

News article

Documentaries, videos and podcasts


Voices from DARPA (Podcast)





November 16, 2020
/PRNewswire/ -- Polyplexus, a DARPA-funded online social platform that hosts evidence-based conversation, announced today a new bracket-style competition to...
The Economist
November 15, 2020
The Economist
But they will be wingmen, not captains
November 5, 2020
Space War
Arlington VA (SPX) Oct 27, 2020 - DARPA's SIGMA+ program conducted a week-long deployment of advanced chemical and biological sensing systems in the Indianapolis metro region in August, collecting more than 250 hours of daily life b
Peter Aitken
August 23, 2020
Fox News
An AI pilot defeated a human pilot in a clean sweep of virtual reality dogfights, with experts hailing the victory as a significant moment for artificial intelligence, sources reported.
Alexander Martin
August 21, 2020
Sky News
An artificial intelligence algorithm successfully defeated an experienced US fighter pilot in five out of five simulated fights.
Hollie McKay
August 5, 2020
Fox News
Man's four-legged best friend has historically played a critical role in the military machine, however, they aren't the only animal playing a pivotal part.
Rowan Walrath
June 16, 2020
The work is being funded by a one-year, $16 million agreement with the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Christopher Carbone
June 16, 2020
Fox News
The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has inked a deal with Harvard's Wyss Institute worth up to $16 million to use technology to identify and test FDA-approved drugs that could be used in the battle against COVID-19.
Eric Berger
June 15, 2020
Ars Technica
"Activity in cislunar space is expected to increase considerably in the coming years."
Kate Knibbs
May 22, 2020
As scientists race to create a vaccine, a parallel quest to engineer effective antibody treatments for the coronavirus is vital, too--and may provide relief sooner.
Ben Adams
May 12, 2020
The U.K.'s Wellcome Trust has spun out a new non-profit with a hefty seed fund and some big names to battle against "the most pressing global health challenges of our time."
David M. Halbfinger
May 7, 2020
The country has engaged defense contractors, doctors, engineers, scientists -- and most of the senses -- in its battle against the coronavirus.
Chris Ciaccia
May 4, 2020
Fox News
Though there is currently no known scientific cure for the disease known as COVID-19, researchers at the U.S.'s most advanced military agency has designed a coronavirus test that can identify people before they come infectious, according to a media report.
Cal Jeffrey
April 9, 2020
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has tapped Intel and Georgia Tech to head up research aimed at defending machine learning algorithms against adversarial deception attacks. Deception attacks are rare outside of laboratory testing but could cause significant problems...
Zack Whittaker
April 9, 2020
Deception attacks, although rare, can meddle with machine learning algorithms.
Matt Simon
March 25, 2020
Robots can help doctors distance from patients, and help those in isolation cope. But getting the machines into hospitals is fraught with difficulties.
Kris Osborn
March 20, 2020
Fox News
The Army, Navy and Pentagon fired off a new Hypersonic Glide Body engineered to travel more than five times the speed of sound and destroy enemy targets thousands of miles away in a matter of minutes, a Pentagon report said.
Loren Grush
March 3, 2020
The Verge
The DARPA Launch Challenge, aimed at finding a rocket company that can rapidly send satellites to space, ended without a winner on March 2nd. Rocket startup Astra Space failed to launch before the contest's deadline, losing out on $12 million -- and now, no one will win the money prize.
Eric Berger
March 2, 2020
Ars Technica
There remains "some probability" of an issue that prevents launch today.


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