DARPA’s Spectrum Collaboration Challenge Kicks-off with 30 Contenders

DARPA’s Spectrum Collaboration Challenge has reached an early milestone with the selection of 30 contenders for the first phase of the three-phase competition. There will be a live match of finalists who have survived the two preliminary contests towards the end of 2019. In addition to 22 teams from academia and industry, there are eight individuals who have made it into the competition.

The Spectrum Collaboration Challenge (SC2) which was unveiled in March 2016, aims to ensure that the exponentially growing number of military and civilian wireless devices have full access to the increasingly crowded electromagnetic spectrum. Competitors will re-imagine spectrum access strategies and develop a new wireless paradigm in which radio networks will autonomously collaborate and reason about how to share the RF spectrum, avoid interference, and jointly exploit opportunities to achieve the most efficient use of the available spectrum. SC2 teams will develop these breakthrough capabilities by taking advantage of recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, and the expanding capacities of software-defined radios. Ultimately, this competition aims not only to challenge innovators in academia and business to produce breakthroughs in collaborative AI, but also to catalyze a new spectrum paradigm that can help usher in an era of spectrum abundance.

Six of the chosen teams for the first preliminary competition earned their slots in the “Proposal Track,” which includes $500,000 of contract funding. Twenty-four teams, including all of the individual contenders, are participating by way of the “Open Track,” which means they had to pass technical hurdles specified by SC2 organizers but will pay their own costs. A total of 113 candidates vied for a spot via the Open Track option.

All 30 of the chosen teams now will have to meet several requirements throughout the year to prepare for the Preliminary Event #1 Competition this December. A still-to-be specified number of top-performing teams in this first phase of the competition will receive $750,000 and will automatically proceed to the second phase of SC2, which will end with another similarly run preliminary competition in December 2018. The finale will take place at the end of 2019 with prizes of $2 million, $1 million, and $750 thousand going to the top three finishers, respectively.