Military researchers ask industry to develop enabling technologies for intelligent sensing and data storage

Feb. 21, 2024
FLEX focuses on cognition; intelligent sensing; distributing computing; intelligent data storage; and high-performance digital and analog devices.

ARLINGTON, Va. – U.S. military researchers are asking for industry's help in developing new ways to anticipate disruptive ideas in information and communications technologies necessary for a data-driven future.

Officials of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., has released a research announcement (DARPA-RA-23-02) for the Forward-Looking Experimentation (FLEX) project.

FLEX focuses on future enabling technologies related to cognition, communications and connectivity; intelligent sensing; distributed computing; intelligent data storage; monolithic and heterogeneous integration; and high-performance energy-efficient digital and analog devices.

Cognition refers to cognitive computing systems that will operate in the natural world on their own, make decisions by forming models of the world they perceive around them, and interact with human decision makers and global distributed networks, to perform complex tasks.

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This theme will go beyond traditional deep learning to build machine-intelligent systems with cognitive and autonomous characteristics to enable the next generation of collaborative human and artificial intelligence (AI) through advances in algorithms, hardware, algorithm-hardware co-design, and collective intelligence.

Communications and connectivity focuses on developing bandwidth for machine-to-machine traffic that will surpass human-to-machine data movement and present new challenges and opportunities for systems and networks.

Intelligent sensing to action focuses on future sensing systems that will be efficient, reliable, and secure that will address the growing deluge of sensed data using cognitive signal processing to synthesize data, make decisions, and take timely action.

This theme will develop cognitive multi-spectral sensors that generate trustworthy insights from wideband multi-modal analog signals using closed-loop feedback control, and feature extraction algorithms that enable energy-efficient sensing-to-action.

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Systems and architectures for distributed compute will focus on exponential performance improvements in energy efficiency, resilience, and security, and deliver breakthrough advances in distributed heterogeneous systems of specialized accelerators.

This theme will explore innovations in processing, intelligent data storage, communications, and security technologies for scalable computing that will improve the performance and energy efficiency of diverse applications by 100 times over the expected computer systems of 2030.

Intelligent memory and storage will focus on fundamental changes in memory and storage, new memory technologies, and new materials to achieve 1,000 times improvement in power, performance, area, and cost.

Advanced monolithic and heterogeneous integration will focus on 3D monolithic and heterogeneous integration to achieve the performance density and efficiency for future computing. This theme will drive technology breakthroughs for new logic and memory tiers, interconnects, power, and thermal infrastructure.

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High-performance energy-efficient devices for digital and analog applications, meanwhile, will focus on ultra-scalable distributed compute, communications, sensing, networking, memory, and storage systems for future computing workloads.

This theme will develop advanced active and passive devices and interconnects based on new materials for orders of magnitude improvements in scaling, energy efficiency, area efficiency, power performance, throughput, latency, and functionalities.

Companies interested in participating in the FLEX program should submit proposals no later than 9 Aug. 2024 on online at

Email questions or concerns to Dev Palmer, the DARPA FLEX program manager, at DARPA-RA-23- [email protected]. More information is online at

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