DARPA to Hold Proposers Day on Nonsurgical Human-Machine Comms Program

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency will host a Proposers Day on April 3 in Arlington, Virginia to discuss a program that seeks to develop human-machine communications technologies that will not require surgery.

DARPA said Friday the Next-Generation Nonsurgical Neurotechnology program, or N3, will explore noninvasive ways to connect able-bodied service members’ neurons with devices.

Existing brain-machine communications techniques are only applicable for disabled individuals.

“DARPA created N3 to pursue a path to a safe, portable neural interface system capable of reading from and writing to multiple points in the brain at once,” said Al Emondi, a program manager at DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office.

N3 researchers will work to address scientific and engineering challenges that currently prevent the creation of neurotechnologies with the precision, signal resolution and portability required for real-world use.

The four-year program will initially focus on mitigating the scattering and weakening of neural signals as they move through skin, skull and brain tissue.

Researchers will subsequently develop algorithms meant to decode and encode neural signals; combine sensing and stimulation subcomponents into one device; study the safety and efficacy of the system with animals; and test the technology with human volunteers.

DARPA ultimately aims to use the N3 system to facilitate human-machine interactions with unmanned aerial vehicles, cyber defense systems and other U.S. military platforms.

The department plans to work with federal regulators and experts to address ethical, legal and social issues that the program could face.

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