DARPA’s Spectrum Platform Heading to NSF for National Wireless R&D

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced that its Spectrum Collaboration Challenge (SC2) platform, Colosseum, will be transferred to the National Science Foundation (NSF) for wireless spectrum research and development after the challenge concludes in October.

DARPA worked with John Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab and National Instruments to stand up SC2’s Colosseum – a massive radio frequency (RF) “channel emulator that can calculate and simulate in real-time more than 65,000 channel interactions among 256 wireless networks” – in April 2017, DARPA said. The platform allows for 20 times more total RF bandwidth than any other commercial system available today.

SC2 had the “mission to reimagine new spectrum access strategies in which radio networks autonomously collaborate to determine how the RF spectrum should be used moment-to-moment,” DARPA said.  Colosseum has been open for competitors to compete for a $2 million prize for developing capabilities that integrate artificial intelligence into spectrum technologies, and that expand capabilities of software-defined radios.

SC2 will hold its final competition in Los Angeles Oct. 23, and after that Colosseum will transition to NSF’s Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWR) program afterward to help advance the nation’s wireless landscape.

“NSF’s PAWR program is the perfect partner to carry the legacy of Colosseum,” DARPA SC2 Program Manager Paul Tilghman said. “We are thrilled to see the Colosseum live on as a critical testbed for national research and development, providing academic institutions, defense labs, federally funded R&D centers, and industry with a means of exploring at-scale, proof-of-concept ideas to improve current and future generations of wireless technologies.”

“This transition will serve as a key stepping stone for an experimenter to gain confidence in their spectrum usage prior to open testing outdoors using the PAWR platforms,” PAWR Director Thyaga Nandagopal added. “In its new home as part of the PAWR family at Northeastern University, the Colosseum will significantly augment NSF’s ongoing investments to stimulate spectrum research, providing an important resource for the broader wireless research community.”