GatorWings Wins DARPA Spectrum Collaboration Challenge

DARPA today announced that GatorWings, a team of undergraduate students, Ph.D. candidates, and professors from the University of Florida are the winners of the Spectrum Collaboration Challenge (SC2) – a three-year competition to unlock the true potential of the radio frequency (RF) spectrum with artificial intelligence (AI). DARPA hosted the championship event at Mobile World Congress 2019 (MWC19) Los Angeles in front of a live audience. SC2’s final 10 competitors and their AI-enabled radios went head-to-head during six rounds of competitive play. GatorWings emerged victorious, taking home first place and the $2 million grand prize.

“We were competing with some of the smartest people in this space, and have been competing against some of them since the first DARPA Spectrum Challenge in 2014,” said John Shea, co-lead of GatorWings. “From that first challenge to today with SC2, you can see that incredible progress has been made – both in terms of what the teams can do and the sophistication of the decision engines, as well as their radio’s ability to work in much more complicated environments. This is going to push us towards making this a practical technology that can be deployed both by the military and commercial users. Through SC2’s efforts, we are moving towards using more intelligence in our radios and making things more adaptive and collaborative.”

GatorWings’ autonomous radio was able to navigate the various wireless obstacles developed for SC2 to thoroughly stress each team’s AI-enabled radios. GatorWings’ unique approach to the SC2 challenge helped it eke out the competition. Using an AI engine that is one-step beyond basic rule-based systems, GatorWings applied foundational reinforcement learning AI techniques to optimize each “pocket” of available spectrum.

“GatorWings really stepped up their design in the final year, they previously finished fifth and sixth in the preliminary tournaments,” said Mr. Paul Tilghman, the DARPA program manager leading SC2. “To see their hard work pay off as they climbed to the top is truly amazing.”

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