ECE Research Team qualifies as Top Seed for DARPA Spectrum Challenge

DARPA challenge team
Clockwise order starting from lower left: Sooyoung Hur, Andrew Marcum, Prof. Krogmeier, Prof. Love, Andrew Balmos. Prof. Lin is not shown in the picture.
The Spectrum Challenge is a competition to demonstrate a radio protocol that can best use a given communication channel in the presence of other dynamic users and interfering signals.

An ECE Research Team consisting of students Sooyoung Hur, Andrew Marcum, and Andrew Balmos and Professors James Krogmeier, David Love, and Xiaojun Lin has qualified as top seed for the DARPA Spectrum Challenge. Of the 90 teams originally registered, 46 completed three qualification hurdles and the top 15 have been selected for the Spectrum Challenge Tournament, which will take place over the next year. The ECE team, which also included Raytheon BBN, qualified with the highest score.

The DARPA Spectrum Challenge is a competition to demonstrate a radio protocol that can best use a given communication channel in the presence of other dynamic users and interfering signals. The Challenge is not focused on developing new radio hardware, but instead is targeted at finding strategies for guaranteeing successful communication in the presence of other radios that may have conflicting co-existence objectives. The Spectrum Challenge will entail head-to-head competitions between one team's radio protocol and an opponent’s in a structured testbed environment. In addition to bragging rights for the winning teams, one team could win as much as $150,000.

Radios are used for a wide range of tasks, from the most mundane to the most critical of communications, from garage door openers to military operations. As the use of wireless technology proliferates, radios can often compete with, interfere with, and disrupt the operations of other radios. DARPA seeks innovative approaches that ensure robust communications in such congested and contested environments. Other factors that motivate the need for intelligent use of spectrum include:

  • High priority radios in the military and civilian sectors must be able to operate regardless of the ambient electromagnetic environment, to avoid disruption of communications and potential loss of life.
  • Response operations, such as disaster relief, further motivate the desire for multiple radio networks to effectively and efficiently share the spectrum without requiring direct coordination or spectrum preplanning.