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DARPA Study Aims to Detect Enemy Activity in Strategic Waters

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has launched a new program that aims to study and identify marine organisms that could help sensor systems detect and track the activities of manned underwater vehicles and drones in strategic waters.

The Persistent Aquatic Living Sensors program also seeks to investigate the responses of marine life to such vehicles and build a network of hardware systems that will work to collect, interpret and relay the organisms’ signals and behaviors to end users, DARPA said Friday.

“The U.S. Navy’s current approach to detecting and monitoring underwater vehicles is hardware-centric and resource intensive,” said Lori Adornato, PALS program manager at DARPA’s biological technologies office.

“If we can tap into the innate sensing capabilities of living organisms that are ubiquitous in the oceans, we can extend our ability to track adversary activity and do so discreetly, on a persistent basis, and with enough precision to characterize the size and type of adversary vehicles.”

DARPA expects PALS to be a four-year research initiative that will incorporate insights from various areas such as biology, analytics, physics, chemistry, machine learning and electrical engineering.

The agency said it will host a proposers day on March 2 in Arlington, Virginia, to discuss the PALS program with interested vendors.

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