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DARPA-Hosted ‘Hackfest’ Explores Software-Based Radio Applications

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency hosted a week-long event at the NASA Ames Conference Center in California to explore how software-defined radio technology can help address communications challenges facing the military.

The DARPA Bay Area Software Defined Radio Hackfest ended on Nov. 17 and involved eight teams from academia, industry and the hacker community that participated in “Hackfest Missions,” the agency said Thursday.

The three missions focused on the communications link between ground stations and unmanned aerial vehicles and were developed by DARPA organizers in collaboration with military operators to simulate real-world scenarios involving radio and UAV platforms.

Mission One challenged participants to find a way to facilitate communications between a ground station and a UAV with a blocked communication pathway.

The second mission urged teams to demonstrate the repeated transfer of control over a moving UAV between multiple ground stations, to mimic scenarios where detailed flight work is needed but pilot visibility is limited.

Under Mission Three, participants searched for new applications of SDR-UAV systems through sensor integration and data transfer between a UAV and a ground station.

Some teams released innovations developed during Hackfest to open-source platforms and communities to promote further technology development.

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