Dozens of radio transmitters hang from the ceiling of the Open Access Research Testbed for Next-Generation Wireless Networks (ORBIT), part of the Wireless Information Network Laboratory (WINLAB) at Rutgers University at New Brunswick. Competitors in the DARPA Spectrum Challenge will test their radio software protocols in this room to help develop more robust radio communications. (DARPA)
Operating radios on a congested spectrum was the focus of DARPA’s Spectrum Challenge, which pitted 18 teams against each other to see who could come up with the best solution.
Teams from Northeastern and Vanderbilt Universities won top honors and $25,000 apiece. DARPA set up two tournaments, one competitive in which teams had to transmit files while evading competitors’ signals within a 5 MHz UHF band, thus simulating data transmission under congested or jamming conditions. In the cooperative tournament, three teams worked together to transmit their data in the shortest possible time.
“Teams could not coordinate in advance on how to share the spectrum, so they had to develop and implement algorithms that enabled their software-defined radios to communicate at a high rate while leaving spectrum for the other two teams to do the same,” said the DARPA announcement.
“This event tested conditions that might be encountered during coalition operations, and also has possible future commercial applications.”
The event, held Sept. 11-12 in Arlington, Va., was the preliminary. The championship will be held next March with a $50,000 prize.