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DARPA Calls on HP For Battlefield Duty

HP is preparing to announce a multi-million dollar grant from the U.S. military to help it stay connected, has learned.

A source close to the deal said HP Labs will work with scientists at DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) on how best to use TCP/IP technology to improve the reliability of communications and data networks in combat situations. Last month, the U.S. Department of Defense-sponsored agency detailed its current efforts to bridge the gap between fundamental discoveries and their military uses.

Executives with HP and DARPA were not immediately available to comment on whether the award issued next week would be covered under DARPA's revised 2005 annual budget of $2.97 billion or its scheduled $3.08 billion budget for 2006.

Information technology at DARPA has been instrumental in many crucial developments: the computer mouse, firewalls, asynchronous transfer mode, synchronous optical networks, packet switching (including TCP/IP), search engines, and natural language processing.

However, DARPA has very limited overhead and no laboratories or facilities, so it must rely on private enterprise to help foster innovations.

HP's long history with DARPA and TCP/IP communications goes back well before the days of ARPANET , the pre-cursor to the modern day Internet.

More recently, HP Labs recently announced its cross-bar latch approach to transistors. The advance in nanotechnology was supported by funding from DARPA and is an extension of a $12.5 million grant the HP Labs molecular electronics won in June 2001.

DARPA also funded collaboration between HP and MIT called project Oxygen to explore new forms of pervasive computing, which produced advances in speech recognition, automated systems and location-based services.

And a team of HP researchers recently completed the first study in quantum game theory using human subjects, also funded through a DARPA grant.

HP Labs has also worked with the NSA on securing and scaling delivery of streaming media delivery over networks.

A division of the U.S. Navy is testing security software developed by researchers within HP Labs to better secure Windows XP.

The two organizations have even shared staff. Stephen Squires, HP's chief science officer, came to HP after serving as the special assistant for IT to the director of DARPA.

HP Senior Fellow Alan Kay's "Croquet" work is also being considered by the military for training radio technicians to build field communications systems in virtual terrain replicating the landscape in Iraq.