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Spectrum Collaboration Challenge

The Spectrum Collaboration Challenge

The DARPA Spectrum Collaboration Challenge (SC2) is the first-of-its-kind collaborative machine-learning competition to overcome scarcity in the radio frequency (RF) spectrum. Today, spectrum is managed by dividing it into rigid, exclusively licensed bands. This human-driven process is not adaptive to the dynamics of supply and demand, and thus cannot exploit the full potential capacity of the spectrum. In SC2, competitors will reimagine a new, more efficient wireless paradigm in which radio networks autonomously collaborate to dynamically determine how the spectrum should be used moment to moment.

The team whose radio design most reliably achieves successful communication in the presence of other competing radios could win as much as $3,500,000. For more information, see the About Page.


For general inquiries, please email sc2@darpa.mil

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DARPA Announces 2019 Spectrum Collaboration Challenge Live Finale

DARPA’s three-year, $3.75 million challenge to solve spectrum scarcity will culminate in a live event alongside “Mobile World Congress Americas, in Partnership with CTIA”

DARPA today announced its plans for the 2019 finale of the Spectrum Collaboration Challenge (SC2)—the world’s first collaborative machine-intelligence competition to address spectrum scarcity. Through a new partnership with the GSMA, the organization that represents mobile operators worldwide, DARPA will host a live SC2 Championship event alongside the 2019 Mobile World Congress Americas (MWCA) annual conference and exhibition. The DARPA and GSMA partnership creates an opportunity to display the groundbreaking SC2 technologies for the wireless telecommunications community at an accessible, public event.

The three-year SC2 competition, already in progress, aims to autonomously manage the increasingly congested electromagnetic (EM) spectrum and unlock its full potential. Through SC2, teams from across the globe are competing to develop new access strategies and wireless paradigms in which radio networks autonomously collaborate and reason about how to make the most efficient use of the spectrum. MWCA attendees will be able to witness this first-of-its-kind competition that merges artificial intelligence, machine learning, and software-defined radio technology to help fundamentally rethink spectrum operations.

“The cause of SC2 and the potential worldwide implications of its resulting solutions could not be better served than by holding our finale on a global stage. Our partnership with the GSMA provides us with an opportunity to reach the community most impacted and inspired by the increasing challenges of spectrum scarcity,” said Paul Tilghman, the DARPA program manager leading the Challenge. “The event will create a platform for the SC2 teams to present three years’ worth of innovation, addressing spectrum challenges that have plagued commercial and military communications over the past two decades.”

“We’re excited to partner with DARPA on its Spectrum Collaboration Challenge and are thrilled they chose to hold the finals alongside Mobile World Congress Americas—the competition offers attendees additional opportunities to see innovation in action,” said Reed Peterson, Head of Mobile World Congress Americas, GSMA. “Particularly, as we enter the era of 5G and IoT, spectrum becomes even more essential in connecting billions of people and ‘things’, and we applaud DARPA’s efforts in discovering new ways to optimize spectrum usage.”

All facets of the mobile and wireless community—from large mobile operators and device manufacturers to public institutes and the military—are affected by the strain being placed on the EM spectrum as a result of the growing number of wireless-enabled devices, IoT, and beyond. “Our SC2 championship event seeks to bring together these diverse groups and excite them about a new possible future that helps autonomously expand spectrum access,” said Tilghman.

The first of SC2’s three phases concluded in an initial preliminary event on December 13, 2017, with the top-scoring teams each receiving $750,000 in prize money. The competition is now entering its second phase, where qualified teams from a new open track search will have a chance to compete alongside teams that moved on from the first phase during a second preliminary event, which will be held in December 2018. For the SC2 Championship event in 2019, the first, second, and third place finishers will have a chance to walk away with prizes of $2 million, $1 million, and $750,000, respectively. Judges will assess competitors based on their ability to produce a radio design that can most efficiently coexist within a congested wireless communications environment.

Teams interested in qualifying for a spot in the current phase of SC2 have until April 30, 2018 to successfully complete the qualification hurdles. Additional information about the phase two hurdles and SC2 can be found at: https://spectrumcollaborationchallenge.com/

Preliminary Event #1 Winners Announced!

Competitors from around the world came together this month for the Preliminary Event #1 (PE1) of DARPA’s Spectrum Collaboration Challenge (SC2) at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, MD. This was the first event of the three-year long tournament designed to generate new wireless paradigms and access strategies in which radio networks enhanced with artificial intelligence will autonomously collaborate and reason about how to share the increasingly congested electromagnetic spectrum. Months of development and hundreds of scrimmage hours paid off for 10 teams who each walked away from the December 13 event with $750,000 in prize money. The winning teams’ demonstrated software defined radio (SDR) designs that were most effective at collaborating with competing radio designs to jointly optimize spectrum usage.

Congratulations to the 10 top scoring teams, each receiving $750,000 :

  • MarmotE from Vanderbilt University
  • SHARE THE PIE from BAE Systems with Eigen LLC
  • Zylinium from a Maryland-based startup
  • Erebus, consisting of three independent engineers and software developers
  • SCATTER from IDLab, an imec research group at Ghent University and University of Antwerp, and Rutgers University
  • GatorWings from University of Florida
  • Sprite from Northeastern University
  • Strawberry Jammer from Northrup Grumman
  • Optical Spectrum, consisting of two independent LIDAR engineers
  • BAM! Wireless from Purdue University and Texas A&M University

SC2’s Preliminary Event #2 (PE2) will be held in December 2018. Over the next 12 months, the 19 teams that participated in PE1 will have continued access to Colosseum to test their designs and a chance to participate in scrimmages against other competitors. In addition, new teams looking to join the SC2 competition may enter by completing entrance hurdle described here:  https://spectrumcollaborationchallenge.com/join.


Phase 2 Registration & Entrance Hurdle Are Open!

DARPA’s Spectrum Collaboration Challenge (SC2), the world’s first collaborative machine intelligence competition to overcome spectrum scarcity, is opening the search for teams to compete in Phase 2 of the Challenge. As the number of military and civilian wireless devices continues to grow exponentially, the need for full access to the increasingly crowded electromagnetic spectrum has never been greater. To overcome the issues of spectrum scarcity, SC2 aims to redefine conventional, rigid spectrum management paradigms in favor of more efficient and fluid machine-driven approaches.

As Phase 1 of SC2 comes to a close in December, the SC2 organizers are excited to reopen the competition to new candidates who are eager to develop smart systems that collaboratively and autonomously adapt in real time to today’s dynamic and congested spectrum environment. To join in, however, will take “hurdling” over some technological challenges. The Phase 2 Qualification Hurdles are now open and require interested teams to deliver software defined radio code. The results of these entrance hurdles will determine the final line-up for the next stage, which will culminate in a Second Preliminary Event in December 2018.

The registration deadline for taking on the Hurdles is January, 2018.  However, interested participants are encouraged to review the qualification details well in advance to ensure sufficient time is allowed for completion.

Visit https://spectrumcollaborationchallenge.com/join to Join

Program Manager Paul Tilghman Speaks at NIWeek 2017

Recently at NIWeek 2017, Eric Starkloff and DARPA program manager Paul Tilghman met on stage and discussed the challenges of spectral coexistence and how Darpa launched a new program called the Spectrum Collaboration Challenge to encourage teams to develop radio networks which can autonomously collaborate to thrive without spectrum allocation. As part of this, DARPA created a testbed called the “Colosseum” to emulate tens of thousands of possible interactions between hundreds of wireless communication devices in real time, using NI’s USRPs and ATCA blades.

View the full discussion here, or visit our press page for this and more news on SC2.