DARPA Spectrum Challenge


The final event took place at DARPA's offices in Arlington, VA. Ninety teams registered from around the world as entrants to the Spectrum Challenge and eighteen teams were selected to participate as finalists. Academic institutions from around the country comprised 14 of the 18 teams, with the remaining 4 teams composed of individual radio hobbyists and practitioners working on their own time.

We would like to thank all the participants for their hard work and dedication. Congratulations to all the teams that made it to the finals and a special congratulation to the teams that won.

More information on the event and winners can be found under News and Updates

What is the DARPA Spectrum Challenge?

The DARPA Spectrum Challenge was 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 was not focused on developing new radio hardware, but instead was targeted at finding strategies for guaranteeing successful communication in the presence of other radios that may have conflicting co-existence objectives. The Spectrum Challenge entailed head-to-head competitions between each team’s radio protocol and an opponent’s in a structured testbed environment. The Challenge awarded first place teams in the preliminary event, and first and second place teams in the final event with cash prizes totaling $200,000.

Why is DARPA interested in spectrum usage?

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.