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DARPA is halfway to creating Spider-Man

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has been driven up a wall -- a vertical glass wall -- with new tech inspired by geckos (and probably Stan Lee).

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Google-owned Motorola launches a project for modular smartphones, Facebook tests new ways to track users, and Barnes & Noble introduces the new Nook GlowLight.

​Google targeting Project Ara modular phone for January 2015

The company wants a base "gray phone" model of its Project Ara modular smartphone available by early next year.

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Don't blink! FireChat takes ephemeral messaging to whole new level

Built with the sole purpose of allowing mobile messaging without cell service or Internet, FireChat has grown into a rabbit hole somewhere between SnapChat and Chatroulette.

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Schaft, a Japanese company focusing on a humanoid robot, is one of several small robotics firms that Google has acquired.

Google turns down military money for robot competition

The bipedal Schaft robot, the top scorer in a DARPA competition last year for disaster-response scenarios, will compete in the finals, but now with funding just from Google.

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Some of the big moments in tech this past year ranged from space to spacey, and human biology to humanoid robots. Here's a collection of images that represent 2013's big stories, with innovation an overriding theme. 
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We've chosen the images for their impact. Robots have advanced and become more animalistic or human-like. Private companies have rocketed into space. And some of the images are arty expressions of our world through sculpture and light.
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Virgin Galactic's <a href="http://news.cnet.com/8301-19514_3-57601804-239/get-up-close-and-supersonic-with-virgin-galactics-spaceshiptwo/" >SpaceShipTwo</a>, for example, billed as the world's first commercial space plane, notched an important milestone by <a href="http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-57581868-1/spaceshiptwo-fires-rocket-engine-in-supersonic-flight/" >firing its rocket engine</a> during flight on April 29. It was a test flight at Mojave Air and Space Port in California. 
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During the flight, the space-ready passenger <a href="http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-57581868-1/spaceshiptwo-fires-rocket-engine-in-supersonic-flight/" >space plane detached</a> from its dual-hull mothership, WhiteKnightTwo, at an altitude of 47,000 feet while being piloted by Mark Stucky and Mike Alsbury of builder Scaled Composites.
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2013: The year in pictures

From human biology to humanoid robots, we take you on a visual journey back through the year, with innovation an overriding theme.

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DARPA has announced a $70 million dollar project to put implants in human brains, we check out the greatest job resume ever, and buyers hate the gold iPhone 5S!

DARPA wants to put an implant in your brain, Ep. 144

DARPA has announced a $70 million project to put implants in human brains. Plus, we check out the greatest job resume ever, and buyers hate the gold iPhone 5S!

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Cue up Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" -- the next wave of helicopter designs are on their way.
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But don't hit play just yet. For the most part, those futuristic choppers are still months and years away from anything but the drawing board. Still, the Pentagon's plans are being set in motion, and now's as good a time as any to do some gazing at the far horizon.
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There are several different projects we'll be looking at in this slideshow. A key one is the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) initiative, and its precursor, the Joint Multi-Role (JMR) Technology Demonstrator program, both led by the US Army but intended to produce rotary-winged flying machines for use across all the military branches. Just this week, the Army's Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center issued awards to four companies under the JMR TD program to get them started on refining initial designs over the next nine months, with a hoped-for first flight of demonstrator aircraft late in the Pentagon's fiscal 2017. 
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One of the participants in the JMR TD initiative is this helicopter design, a joint concept put forward by a <a href="http://boeing.mediaroom.com/2013-02-28-Sikorsky-Boeing-Propose-X2-Technology-Helicopter-Design-for-US-Armys-Joint-Multi-Role-Future-Vertical-Lift-Requirements">Sikorsky-Boeing tag team</a>. It's based on Sikorsky's X2 technology, which in 2010 propelled a demonstrator helicopter to 250 knots in flight -- roughly twice the average cruise speed of conventional helicopters.

Helicopters of the future: A brief history (pictures)

From the near-term Future Vertical Lift program to the seriously futuristic Aviation 2050 Vision, the Army has a lot riding on rotorcraft yet to come.

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Touch your robot, and its new skin will light up

This e-skin responds to touch with light. It could also be used for medical applications and interactive displays.

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On Thursday, DARPA unveiled one of the more <a href="http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-57593396-1/be-afraid-darpa-unveils-terminator-like-atlas-robot/" >frightening and futuristic robots</a> we've ever seen. But the massive 6-foot humanoid robot, which was developed by Boston Dynamics, isn't designed to kill -- it's here to help us.
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Atlas, with 28 hydraulically actuated joints, is one of the most advanced humanoid robots ever built. But the humanoid is essentially a physical shell, a starting point for the software brains and nerves that the teams from DARPA’s <a href="http://www.darpa.mil/NewsEvents/Releases/2013/06/27.aspx" >Virtual Robotics Challenge</a> will use as a development platform.
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We're not yet in danger from these bipedal bots, but better sensors, muscle-like actuators, and more advanced planning and control systems are making robots more and more like us everyday.
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After more than 30 years of robotics development, we are soon sure to see the machines walking among us.
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Take a look at the evolution of robotics development.

The evolution of humanoid robots (pictures)

With advances in sensors and control systems, humanoid robots, like DARPA's Atlas, are soon to be working side by side with us in everything from industry to entertainment.

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Be afraid: DARPA unveils Terminator-like Atlas robot

Atlas looks like the prototype for a future robot infantryman, and it can tackle rough terrain and carry human tools. Can you say "Skynet"?

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<p>In the spring of 1943, amid the urgencies and alarums of wartime, bureaucracy took a back seat to necessity for the U.S. Army Air Force and aircraft maker Lockheed. The Nazi military machine was making notable progress developing a jet-powered fighter, a cutting-edge technology with the potential to give the Germans an edge in the battle for air superiority. The Army, then, didn't waste any time when it got a bold, confident pitch from Lockheed to build a jet aircraft prototype and build it fast. It gave Lockheed the green light in June 1943, setting in motion not just an aircraft design but also what was soon to become known as the Skunk Works. </p>

<p>The aircraft that came from that agreement was the Lockheed XP-80 (seen above), completed well ahead of schedule in a remarkable 143 days.  The XP-80 would make its first flight on January 8, 1944. And while jet aircraft never became a factor in the aerial combat of World War II, a new era had dawned in the the world of aviation. And 70 years on, Lockheed's Skunk Works operation is still going strong. In this slideshow, we'll take a look at Skunk Works aircraft from across those seven decades.</p>

Seven decades of Lockheed Skunk Works aircraft (pictures)

The legendary Skunk Works got its start on an early jet fighter design 70 years ago this month. Since then, it's brought you the U-2, the SR-71, and the F-117, and it's still going strong.

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Plan X aims to create the first GUI for cyberwar.

DARPA's 'Plan X' looks to make an app for cyberwarfare

DARPA has tapped some of the biggest names in tech, design, and gaming in an aim to make taking down botnets as simple as a few swipes and taps.

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