DARPA's Advanced RF Mapping (RadioMap) Program
project is underway by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to provide a real-time map (RadioMap)
of where over-the-air broadcasts are occurring. The idea is to create a Google Maps type graphical interface where
a network of 'sensors' that includes special purpose and otherwise deployed devices will report to a central
data collection point to provide situational awareness for where and when (and by whom in some cases) specific frequencies
are being occupied. Proposals are being accepted for companies wanting to contribute to the program, so this might
be a great opportunity for makers of software defined radios (SDR) to build functionality into systems for accommodating
such detection and reporting. If you are a strategic planning outfit, this would be a good ground floor entry point
for participation in what will almost certainly be part of the (like it or not) unstoppable rapid expansion of government
The Advanced RF Mapping (RadioMap)
states thus regarding objectives. The entire document and amendments can be read at the page linked above.
From the RadioMap website:
DARPA is soliciting innovative research proposals
in the area of Radio Frequency (RF) situational awareness employing a heterogeneous sensor network, whose constituent
devices include RF receiver/transmitters deployed for other purposes such as tactical radios, using an approach
that facilitates extension of the network to incorporate additional device types and to support additional Electronic
Warfare/Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (EW/ISR) applications. Proposed research should investigate
innovative approaches that enable revolutionary advances in science, devices, or systems. Specifically excluded
is research that primarily results in evolutionary improvements to the existing state of practice.
Three problems facing different user communities motivate research in this area:
The vision of the Advanced RF Mapping program (RadioMap) is that these problems can be solved if deployed RF devices
support RF situational awareness and other EW/ISR functions in addition to and without harm to their primary mission.
In particular, flexible and tunable devices such as software-defined tactical radios can offer high benefits through
their ability to perform a range of scanning, monitoring, and transmission functions. Employing existing RF devices
will reduce the cost and delay of deploying new networked EW/ISR functions while making EW/ISR functions more widely
available on the battlefield.
- Spectrum managers, and Dynamic Spectrum Access systems that perform automatic spectrum management functions,
lack real-time awareness of spectrum usage variations across frequency, geography, and time. This reduces the
efficiency of spectrum allocation and sharing, and thus reduces the total achieved mission benefit from the RF
- Small tactical units such as platoons or companies rarely have EW/ISR capability. A system that provides RF
situational awareness and the ability to control the immediate RF environment as needed will offer significant
benefits for mission effectiveness and force protection.
- EW and ISR coverage is limited in some operational contexts by the high cost of current EW/ISR systems and
platforms. An affordable system that provides broad coverage to cue and support the more focused high-capability
EW/ISR systems would offer significant value.
The vision of the Advanced RF Mapping program (RadioMap) is that these problems
can be solved if deployed RF devices support RF situational awareness and other EW/ISR functions in addition to
and without harm to their primary mission. In particular, flexible and tunable devices such as software-defined
tactical radios can offer high benefits through their ability to perform a range of scanning, monitoring, and transmission
functions. Employing existing RF devices will reduce the cost and delay of deploying new networked EW/ISR functions
while making EW/ISR functions more widely available on the battlefield.
The primary goal of the present
funding opportunity is research on RF situational awareness oriented towards addressing the problems of the three
user communities described above. However, it is desirable for the approach used to also facilitate deployment of
additional EW/ISR functions in the future. Therefore, DARPA seeks solutions structured in a way that segregates
the implementation of RF situational awareness techniques from an underlying system that leverages and coordinates
the reception and transmission capability of available RF devices.
DARPA seeks innovative technical
proposals in the following areas of interest:
Technical Area One: RF Situational Awareness
For convenience, the term “mapping” is used to refer to the desired RF situational awareness capability. The goal
of mapping is to determine how the RF spectrum is being used. More specifically, mapping incorporates the following
A key challenge is to maximize the completeness, accuracy and mission utility of the outputs given available mapping
resources, and/or to minimize resources needed to achieve specified goals. Techniques are sought that combine user-specified
collection priorities and other information with current mapping results to improve analysis and optimize further
collection. Information of interest for use in this way includes models of emitters and networks, maps of the urban
environment and terrain, propagation models and spectrum license databases.
- Observe transmissions
- Determine the type and characteristics of active devices and networks
- Estimate spectrum occupancy and usage throughout the area of interest
To support spectrum managers,
the map should be output in a format that supports automatic comparison to management databases, and that enables
incorporation of the data into an existing spectrum management system or Geographic Information System (GIS). Analysis
of usage changes over time should be supported. Techniques are of interest that deliver a stream of updates while
the mapping system operates. Approaches are also sought that support Dynamic Spectrum Access communication systems.
For the other two user communities, different outputs and control mechanisms will be necessary. Research
on those topics is anticipated to be supported in a subsequent phase.
Technical Area Two: WALDO system
The underlying software system that leverages and coordinates the reception and transmission capability of available
RF devices, in support of applications like RF mapping, is referred to as a WALDO system (Wireless And Large-scale
Distributed Operations). A WALDO system contains at least the following components:
Additional system characteristics of interest are the following:
- A component executing on each participating RF device that performs reception, transmission and local processing
tasks on behalf of the applications. This component operates in a way that does not require attention by the device’s
user. The unit commander controlling the device should be able to limit the impact on the primary mission of the
device and the resources used for WALDO tasks, and change the limits remotely during a mission.
- A software component or system that sends tasks to RF devices and collects their results on behalf of applications.
It automatically selects the devices and tasks used to carry out each job requested by an application in a way
that maximizes the probability of job success while minimizing overall resource consumption.
Technical Area Three: Other Capabilities
- Any RF device should be able to perform tasks for any application for which it has the necessary hardware
capabilities, (1) without specializing the device software for the application, (2) without specializing the application
implementation for the device, and (3) without specializing any part of the WALDO system for either the device
or the application, except for porting the on-board software component onto the RF device.
- The WALDO system should provide robust, secure and efficient operation, supporting multiple simultaneous applications,
scalable to 1000 or more RF devices, including in situations where network quality of service is low and information
about the RF devices and the environment is uncertain.
- The WALDO system should minimize application response latency and its growth with increasing system size and
utilization. Application response latency is the delay from reception of a signal on one device to the start of
follow-on tasks potentially on different devices, when application logic not running on the receiving device requests
the follow-on work based on information from the received signal.
Another goal of this program is for the WALDO system to facilitate
deployment of other capabilities in addition to RF situational awareness. While the above text has described these
as EW/ISR applications, the capabilities of interest are not restricted to EW and ISR.
encouraged to consider the available RF receivers and transmitters as a resource to be exploited, and develop concepts
for innovative capabilities of high military utility, either exploiting this resource standalone or in combination
with other existing or emerging resources. Capabilities are sought that offer high utility justifying the cost per
square kilometer covered, with the appropriate utility and cost metrics to be defined for the capability by the
proposer. Cost metrics of potential interest include device acquisition cost if dedicated devices are deployed,
resources consumed if shared devices are leveraged, operational cost if aerial assets are employed, and communications
resources consumed if the capability is network-intensive.
Access the RadioMap website here.
Posted November 5, 2013