The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has created a new division, the Biological Technologies Office (BTO), to explore the intersection of biology and the physical sciences with Geoffrey Ling, MD, PhD, as its director. The BTO will merge biology, engineering, and computer science, expanding on the work of DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office (DSO) and Microsystems Technology Office (MTO). One of the BTO’s research focus areas includes development of advanced prosthetics and neural interfaces.
According to a DARPA press release, progress in neuroscience, sensor design, microsystems, and computer science have “begun to converge, revealing newly emergent potential” and leading to the creation of the new office. The goal of the BTO is “to harness the power of biological systems by applying the rigorous tools of engineering and related disciplines, and to design next-generation technologies that are inspired by insights gained from the life sciences.”
“The Biological Technologies Office will advance and expand on a number of earlier DARPA programs that made preliminary inroads into the biotechnological frontier,” said Ling. “We’ve been developing the technological building blocks, we’ve been analyzing our results, and now we’re saying publicly to the research and development community, ‘We are ready to start turning the resulting knowledge into practical tools and capabilities.'”
The initial BTO portfolio includes programs transferred from DSO and MTO, as well as the recently announced Hand Proprioception & Touch Interfaces (HAPTIX) program that expands on the work of DARPA’s Revolutionizing Prosthetics (RP) and Reliable Neural-Interface Technology (RE-NET) programs.