Military Embedded Systems

DARPA officials release details for its Spectrum Collaboration Challenge


July 20, 2016

Mariana Iriarte

Technology Editor

Military Embedded Systems

DARPA officials release details for its Spectrum Collaboration Challenge
Photo by DARPA

ARLINGTON, Va. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) representatives released details for of its Spectrum Collaboration Challenge (SC2) and are officially looking for contenders. Two participation options are available for candidates seeking one or up to 30 available slots in the competition.

SC2 will address the growing issue of the number of military and civilian wireless devices that will have full access to the crowded electromagnetic spectrum. The winner of the competition will win a grand prize of $2 million. Teams that place in second and third place will walk away with $1 million and $750,000, respectively. The competition will be divided into three year long phases that will begin in 2017 and span through late 2019.

Paul Tilghman, program manager for SC2, and his team in DARPA’s Microsystems Technology Office hope that with the reward system will redefine conventional, rigid spectrum management paradigms in favor of more efficient machine-driven approaches. He continues to say, “We want to radically accelerate the development of machine-learning technologies and strategies that will allow on-the-fly sharing of spectrum at machine timescales.”

Two tracks are offered for potential participants as specified in a Broad Agency Announcement (DARPA-BAA-16-47) posted on Successful candidates in the proposal track will enter directly into a funded contract with DARPA. In the open track option, teams will have to pass entrance hurdles demonstrating software-defined radio and artificial intelligence techniques. The open track option welcomes potential participants, ranging from commercial companies to startups and from universities to hackers in their garage, especially those that have not worked with DARPA in the past.

A rules document is availale on For a more detailed guide to the architectural needs for the competition, including the scoring methodology, scenario development for testing competitors’ collaborative strategies and tactics, DARPA officials posted a second BAA (DARPA-BAA-16-48) with that information. A special notice with details about Competitor Information and Proposers Days to be held in August at DARPA headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, for those considering participating in SC2 as a competition contender has also been posted on


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