Originally formed in 1958 under the authorization of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, DARPA is a special branch of the military that focuses on research and development. President Eisenhower had proceeded with DARPA ins response to the Soviet’s launching of Sputnik 1. Since then, DARPA has been paramount in bolstering the United States military to become a global super power.
DARPA’s latest project, however, has some people asking the question why. Why is DARPA interested in turning everyday household items into weapons? As explained by the program’s director, the reason behind its new project is to anticipate new weapons and tactics that may be used by enemies of the U.S. Improvised explosive devices (IEDs), for instance, have been used with increasing frequency by insurgents in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other middle-eastern territories. DARPA is hoping that it can prevent injuries and fatalities of U.S. servicemen and women as well as U.S. allies by identifying possible weapons that insurgents may create.
“DARPA often looks at the world from the point of view of our potential adversaries to predict what they might do with available technology,” said John Main, the program’s director. “Historically we did this by pulling together a small group of technical experts, but the easy availability in today’s world of an enormous range of powerful technologies means that any group of experts only covers a small slice of the available possibilities. In Improv we are reaching out to the full range of technical experts to involve them in a critical national security issue.”
The program, dubbed “Improv,” is asking for proposals from technical specialists, researchers, hobbyists and the general public alike, both here in the U.S. and abroad. More specifically, DARPA is asking for proposals of weapons that can be created from common items and appliances within just 90 days. Items from which the weapons can be constructed include virtually anything, ranging from mobile phones and televisions to refrigerators, scrap metal and more.
While its accepting proposals of all types, it’s especially interested in those which utilize components from non-military industries like transportation, maritime and telecommunications.
To learn more about project Improve, visit DARPA’s official website at http://www.darpa.mil/news-events/2016-03-11. DARPA is holding its first “Proposers Day Webinar” on March 29.