Since Sept. 11, Darpa has been in a tricky position. The agency is supposed to investigate the wildest technology and science ideas; but it is also supposed to translate those ideas into real advantages for troops at war.
Darpa appears to be getting pulled in two directions under new chief Regina Dugan. Dugan wants to ensure that each program under pursuit has a ‘transition plan’ that will eventually put the gear in the field. But at the same time she is increasing by 59 percent the agency’s funds for “basic research” which covers the preliminary investigations that will not necessarily lead to anything particularly concrete.