DARPA Uses Vision As A Military Tactic


DARPA has selected multiple teams of researchers for its Coded Visibility (CV) program which seeks to develop a new smoke-like obscurant that will prevent enemy troops from seeing through it. The new obscurant will not only block adversaries’ vision, it will also allow U.S. and allied forces to see the entire battlefield.

“The teams we selected aim to develop new types of non-hazardous obscurant particulates that can be tailored to provide asymmetry – that is to allow U.S. and allied forces to see the enemy through the plume in one direction, while the adversary is unable to see through the plume in the opposite direction,” said Rohith Chandrasekar, CV program manager in DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office. “A passive asymmetry approach will likely require multiple obscurant materials deployed in specific ways to allow one-way vision through the plume. We are also exploring a more fundamental challenge of demonstrating active asymmetry, which only requires a single obscurant material, but one that can be tuned in real time to potentially enable dynamic control of its properties after being deployed and in cooperation with sensors.”

The research teams selected include:

  • Raytheon Technologies Research Center, Rice University, and Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) – will work in the passive asymmetry technical area to develop new obscurants composed of multiple particulates with tailored properties and demonstrate asymmetric vision capabilities in lab, pilot, and field tests; and
  • Northeastern University, teamed with City University of New York, University of Pennsylvania, and Polaris Sensor Technologies; Signature Research, teamed with Duke University; and Georgia Tech Research Institute, teamed with Georgia Tech – will work in the active symmetry technical area, will investigate new tunable particulates and associated active modulation mechanisms to demonstrate asymmetry on-demand in lab and pilot tests.

All the teams will work to develop new obscurant modeling and simulation tools to engineer plumes and assess performance against sensors. They will also ensure that all new obscurants are safe to inhale compared to obscurants currently in use that can be hazardous and require troops to wear respirators in the field.