Ag Tech News

DARPA latest program Advanced Plant Technologies(APT)

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is pursuing research into genetically modifying plants to turn them into self-sustaining surveillance sensors.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is essentially the US government's major technology research arm, dedicated to developing innovations that strive for transformational technological change. Just this year we've seen landmark announcements from the agency directing funding to new gene editing technologies and development into brain-computer interface devices.

The latest program to be revealed is called Advanced Plant Technologies (APT) and it is currently seeking proposals from the science and technology community on the potential ways plant physiology could be appropriated to detect "chemical, biological, radiological, and/or nuclear threats, as well as electromagnetic signals."

The aim of the program is to genetically modify certain plants so that specific response mechanisms are triggered when they are presented with specific stimuli. It is suggested that existing hardware can be used to remotely monitor these responses so the plants could essentially be used as organic sensors. As such, the program won't seek to develop new hardware for this purpose, but rely on existing technologies that can already measure such things as a plants' temperature, chemical composition and reflectance.


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