Three crazy DARPA projects that sound more like science fiction than science

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is the agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of emerging technologies that may be used for military purposes. The agency was established on February 7, 1958. It was originally known as the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) by then-President Dwight Eisenhower after the Soviet Union launched its Sputnik 1 in 1957. If you want to see some cool stuff, check out DARPA. Some of their useful and innovative projects were the research and development of the Internet, GPS, and the heart of Google Maps, to name a few.

Here are some interesting ideas:

EATR, Plant-Eating Robots

Artist’s concept of the EATR robot. Credit: Francis Govers III via Popular Science

The Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATR) was a concept developed between 2003 and 2009 as part of DARPA’s military projects. The concept became the project of Robotic Technology Inc. (RTI) and Cyclone Power Technologies Inc, to develop a robotic vehicle that could seek out and use plant biomass to power itself, thus having an infinite power source and operating indefinitely. . According to robotic technology,

The Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATR)™ project aims to
develop and demonstrate an autonomous robotic platform capable of performing long range and long endurance missions without the need for manual or conventional refueling,
which would otherwise prevent the robot’s ability to perform such missions. the
the system obtains its energy by feeding itself – by engaging in biologically inspired, organism-like activities,
energy-recovery behavior that equates to eating. It can find, ingest and
extract energy from biomass in the environment (and other energies of organic origin
sources), as well as using conventional and alternative fuels (such as gasoline,
fuel, kerosene, diesel, propane, coal, cooking oil and solar energy) where applicable.

There were rumors around this time that the EATR diet was not exclusively biomass in the environment but also from the human population, which Cyclone Power Technologies CEO Harry Schoell has denied in 2009, saying, “We fully understand the public’s concern about feeding futuristic robots. on the human population, but that is not our mission. The project died out and stopped development in 2015.

Houses that could grow and heal themselves

Don’t you want houses to grow and repair themselves instead of having to build and rebuild them? Say no more because DARPA has the Engineering Living Materials (ELM) program for that.

ELM’s concept was to create materials that could grow, heal, and adapt to their environment over time. It was pretty much the same concept of how the mushroom mycelium could grow and fill in the shape of the molded form after being fed agricultural waste. This would solve the difficulties of producing, transporting and assembling current building materials. As Justin Gallivan, ELM program manager, said in 2016, “Imagine that instead of shipping finished materials, we could ship precursors and rapidly develop them on site using local resources.”

It kinda reminds me of the Madrigal family’s Casita in Encanto, but in a bit creepier way.

Spy Bugs, beyond the capabilities of bulky human soldiers

Hybrid Insect Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (HI-MEMS) project (Photo:

Unrelated to Ant-Man, DARPA’s spy insects were part of the project to implant transmitters into insects to use for surveillance purposes. The 2006 project was officially called the Hybrid Insect Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (HI-MEMS) program, a pretty big name for a project involving tiny buzzers. Researchers from the University of Michigan and Cornell University worked to develop interfaces capable of controlling the actions of these little friends. The ultimate goal: to send an insect about 5 meters from a target located 100 meters from the starting point of the insect. The unicorn bug was a beetle that could take off and land, turn, and even exhibit other flight behaviors. Here is the demo:

As written by International Defense, Security & Technology, Inc. in 2019:

The vision of HI-MEMS – swarms of insects with different types of different built-in MEMS sensors (like video cameras, audio microphones and chemical sniffers) could penetrate enemy territory in swarms. HI-MEMS swarms could then perform reconnaissance missions beyond the capabilities of bulky human soldiers.

Admittedly, some of these projects sound too good to be true. Do you know of any other DARPA projects like these? Share them with us!

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