DARPA seeks better, faster development of complex defense systems

Agency to fund research to improve design, production of aircraft and ground vehicles

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is looking to fund research that will improve and accelerate the development process of complex defense systems, such as aircraft and ground vehicles, that incorporate software and electromechanical systems, according to a recently published notice.

DARPA’s program, named META, aims to “develop model-based design methods for cyber-physical systems far more complex and heterogeneous than those to which such methods are applied today,” according to a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for the program published on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site. DARPA is taking proposals for META until Feb. 18.

DARPA said the cost and time to develop such systems has grown exponentially. The research agency said it wants META to yield a framework and toolset that can produce complicated aircraft and ground vehicles five times faster than the conventional approach allows.

To trim development and production time, DARPA wants to use META to develop:

  • A practical, observable metric for cyber-physical systems
  • A quantitative metric of adaptability associated with a given system architecture that can support trade-offs between adaptability, complexity, cost, etc. and
  • A structured design flow that has a hierarchical abstraction of electromechanical and software components.

META will be structured in three phases, the first of which will be broken down into two sub-phases:

  • Phase 1a, for design flow, metrics and tools development, will last for nine months and will involve up to three contract awards, each worth up to $4 million
  • Phase 1b, for putting the toolset in place, will last for sixth months and up to two awards each valued up to $10.4 million
  • Phase 2, for component and manufacturing model library development, will last for 12 months with at least one award worth up to $26 million, and
  • Phase 3, to create a rapid development demo, would last for more than 15 months, but specifics haven’t yet been determined.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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