Google Just Hired The Head Of The Pentagon's Research Arm

Regina Duncan DARPA GoogleRegina Duncan demonstrates a robotic bird.

Photo: Jurvetson via Flickr

Google has hired Regina Dugan, the director of the U.S. defence Department’s DARPA research arm, to a senior executive position.Wired reported the move earlier, noting that Dugan was a bit of a maverick at DARPA: she focused on tactical research rather than pie-in-the-sky projects like shape-shifting robots, and reached out to the hacker community.

She’s also being investigated by the Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General for awarding contracts to RedXDefense, a bomb-detecting company she founded and still part owns, reports Wired. The Pentagon says her departure has nothing to do with the investigation.

In a roundabout way, DARPA helped inspire Google’s idea for self-driving cars: a few years ago, it sponsored a set of autonomous vehicle races called the DARPA Challenges, and Google ended up hiring some engineers from winning teams.

Google did not say exactly what Dugan will be doing, but it seems likely that she’ll work for cofounder Sergey Brin, who is focused on long-term research projects. A GOogle spokesperson told us, “Regina is a technical pioneer who brought the future of technology to the military during her time at DARPA. She will be a real asset to Google and we are thrilled she is joining the team.”

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