ECE tackles the DARPA Spectrum Collaboration Challenge | ECE | Virginia Tech


ECE tackles the DARPA Spectrum Collaboration Challenge


A team of researchers from Virginia Tech has been awarded a $2,000,000 grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to participate in the Spectrum Collaboration Challenge. This first-of-its-kind competition focuses on developing new techniques for collaboration between radios (using machine-learning) to overcome scarcity in the radio frequency spectrum.

Radio spectrum is a finite natural resource. If you think of the array of colors in a rainbow, radio spectrum would have an array of bands that carry radio signals instead of color. In this program, teams from around the world will compete to reimagine a new, more efficient wireless networking system in which radio networks automatically collaborate to determine how the spectrum should be used moment to moment.

The team, led by Professor R. Michael Buehrer, director of Wireless @ Virginia Tech, and Robert McGwier, chief scientist at the Hume Center for National Security and Technology, will participate in several rounds of competition through this program, developing unique technologies at each phase. Professors Jeffrey Reed and Jung-Min "Jerry" Park are also part of the Virginia Tech team.

"Our team is very excited to be a part of this program," said Buehrer. "The contest has the potential to completely change the way wireless networks are designed and spectrum is utilized. Just as autonomous vehicles have the potential to fundamentally change transportation, machine intelligence and collaboration-oriented radios have the potential to change the way communication networks are deployed."

While the usable radio spectrum is finite, the increase of wireless products—such as smart phones—that are using the radio spectrum has increased dramatically in recent years and is projected to continue to increase in the foreseeable future. The ability to manage the radio spectrum efficiently is one of the greatest challenges of our time.

The Virginia Tech team is also sponsored by Lockheed Martin's Advanced Technology Laboratories. The winning team from this multi-year effort could win as much as $3.5 million.