Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was caught up to date on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's latest innovations Tuesday, when DARPA personnel visited the Pentagon and demonstrated five technologies currently under development.

DARPA displays innovative prosthetic technologies
A prosthetic arm that belonged to Fred Downs Jr., a Vietnam veteran who had worked for Hagel at the Veterans Administration during Reagan's presidency, was among the technologies, according to Stars and Stripes. Downs, who lost his left arm in a land mine explosion, demonstrated how he is able to control movement of his elbow, wrists and fingers by operating two accelerometers attached to his feet.

Dr. Justin Sanchez, a program manager at DARPA and specialist in prosthetics and brain-related technology, explained that Downs' advanced prosthesis mimics the size, shape and weight of a human arm. Hagel described the device as "transformational," and said that it would have a major impact on the lives of wounded servicemembers.

Another DARPA technology exhibited was a shiny black arm and hand that responds to brain impulses. Sanchez showed Hagel a video of a patient who was able to control this device using her thoughts. The tactile feedback system that enables this process is expected to be operational within the next few months, according to a news release from the American Forces Press Service. Engineers are also planning to add sensors in the fingers that can relay information to the brain.

"People said it would be 50 years before we saw this technology in humans," Sanchez said, as quoted by Stars and Stripes. "We did it in a few years."

Next, DARPA officials gave Hagel an overview of the agency's robotics challenge, a robot development competition inspired by the March 2011 nuclear incident in Fuskushima, Japan. They highlighted a 6-foot-two-inch search and disaster robot named Atlas developed by Virginia Tech.

DARPA reports on classified projects
The final three technologies demonstrated to Hagel were classified, so journalists were escorted out of the conference room. According to Stars and Stripes, a defense official said that Hagel was informed about three DARPA projects: Plan X, a long-range anti-missile ship and a persistent close air support system.

Plan X is a foundational program that aims to develop platforms to facilitate the conduct of cyberwarfare in a manner that resembles kinetic warfare. The anti-missile ship is intended to reduce dependence on GPS navigation and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms. Finally, the air support system would connect joint tactical air controllers with close air support aircraft by use of tablets.