With its futuristic, often bizarre research projects, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is easily one of the more interesting government departments.
Taking advantage of the public’s curiosity, DARPA has announced the unveiling of a four-month exhibit called "Redefining Possible" at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry (MSI).
"Our guests are very interested in what tomorrow’s going to look like," museum curator Kathleen McCarthy told reporters. "If they’re interested in that, they should look at what DARPA is doing today."
The exhibition will include a number of the agency’s more publicized endeavors. Visitors will be able to get a glimpse of the bipedal robot Atlas, a 6 ft. tall humanoid machine designed for search and rescue operations. Unveiled in 2013, Atlas can drive a vehicle, walk upright, even over debris, climb a ladder, and break through concrete panels, among other things.
A model of DARPA’s brand new unmanned Sea Hunter will be on display. The $120 million vessel is designed to autonomously roam the seas, hunting enemy submarines.
"For our military operations we want to make sure we have unmanned vessels like this to supplement the human mission so that we’re not putting people unduly in harm’s way," said DARPA spokesman Jared Adams.
The museum will also feature a number of the agency’s projects in prosthetics, microelectronics, and other fields.
But the exhibit has more than education on its mind. According to DARPA Deputy Director Steve Walker, the agency also hopes to inspire future recruits.
"It happens that MSI is smack in the middle of a resource-rich domain, from a recruiting point of view," he told reporters. "We’re happy to be able to tell our story and hope to catch the attention of some of the nation’s leading scientist and engineers."
"We are constantly looking for superstars."
DARPA isn’t the only military agency using public events to boost its popularity. In March, the Pentagon announced plans to send a pair of its beleaguered F-35 Joint Strike Fighters on an air-show tour, in an attempt to repair the $1-trillion aircraft’s reputation. The plane will perform at 12 separate events across the country before making its way to the United Kingdom for additional appearances.