DARPA Launch Challenge: What is the Payload?

DARPA Launch Challenge seeks to demonstrate “just in time” payload integration as part of the overall goal for rapid and responsive use of space. In contrast with typical launch campaigns where payload data is given to the launch provider months prior, details of the payloads for Launch 1 were shared with the launch team on January 22, 2020 (L-30 days). The Launch 1 payload manifest consists of four CubeSats and one hosted payload. The team received the payloads at the launch site, where integration with the rocket is being finalized.

Today, space launch is a process that begins years in advance, and it relies on a limited number of launch ranges that have complex, expensive, and one-of-a-kind, fixed infrastructure. The DARPA Launch Challenge is stressing the time, technology, systems, and processes that currently constrain access to space. The Challenge aims to minimize launch infrastructure, improve responsiveness, and take advantage of advances in commercial launch cadence to demonstrate flexible launch capabilities in days rather than years, for our nation’s defense.

L-7: DARPA Launch Challenge/Launch 1 Preparation

In preparation for Launch 1 in the DARPA Launch Challenge, Astra vehicle “1 of 3” travels from the company’s facility in Alameda, California, to Pacific Spaceport Complex-Alaska in Kodiak, Feb. 18, 2020.

Today, space launch is a process that begins years in advance, and it relies on a limited number of launch ranges that have complex, expensive, and one-of-a-kind, fixed infrastructure. The DARPA Launch Challenge is stressing the time, technology, systems, and processes that currently constrain access to space. The Challenge aims to minimize launch infrastructure, improve responsiveness, and take advantage of advances in commercial launch cadence to demonstrate flexible launch capabilities in days rather than years, for our nation’s defense.

Moving In and Checking Out – DARPA Subterranean Challenge Urban Circuit

Teams arrived on-site Feb. 18, 2020, for the Subterranean Challenge Urban Circuit.

Ten teams will compete in the Systems competition at Satsop Business Park in Elma, Washington, Feb. 18-27, 2020. Eight teams qualified to participate in the Virtual competition, which will run Jan. 23-30. Two teams will compete in both Virtual and Systems events.

The DARPA Subterranean Challenge seeks to better equip warfighters and first responders to explore human-made tunnel systems, urban underground, and natural cave networks, while decreasing risk to human lives. The SubT Challenge Systems and Virtual competitions aim to create a community of multidisciplinary teams from wide-ranging fields to foster breakthrough technologies in autonomy, perception, networking, and mobility for underground environments. The Tunnel Circuit took place in August 2019. The Cave Circuit is planned for August 2020, and the Final Event incorporating all three underground environments is targeted for August 2021.

SubT Challenge: Adapting to the Urban Environment

DARPA Subterranean Challenge program manager Dr. Timothy Chung explores the complexities teams will encounter in the Systems competition of the Urban Circuit, taking place Feb. 17-27, 2020, at Satsop Business Park in Elma, Washington. The Urban Circuit mimics the uncertain environment awaiting a first responder or warfighter in emergency scenarios in diverse urban settings.

AlphaDogfight Trial #1 Overview Video – November 20-22, 2019

Eight teams participating in DARPA’s AlphaDogfight Trials competed in the first of three Trials from Nov. 20-22, 2019, at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL):

* Aurora Flight Sciences
* EpiSci
* Georgia Tech Research Institute
* Heron Systems
* Lockheed Martin
* Perspecta Labs
* physicsAI
* SoarTech

For more about the AlphaDogfight Trials and the Air Combat Evolution program, visit: https://www.darpa.mil/news-events/2019-10-21

OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) Third Field Experiment

In its third field experiment, DARPA’s OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics
(OFFSET) program deployed swarms of autonomous air and ground vehicles to
demonstrate a raid in an urban area. The field experiment took place at the
Combined Arms Collective Training Facility (CACTF) at the Camp Shelby Joint
Forces Training Center in Mississippi.

The OFFSET program envisions swarms of up to 250 collaborative autonomous
systems providing critical insights to small ground units in urban areas
where limited sight lines and tight spaces can obscure hazards, as well as
constrain mobility and communications

SC2 Championship Event: Extended Highlights and Interviews

On October 23, 2019, ten teams of finalists gathered to compete one last time in the Championship Event of DARPA’s Spectrum Collaboration Challenge (SC2), a three-year competition designed to unlock the true potential of the radio frequency (RF) spectrum with artificial intelligence. DARPA held the Championship Event at Mobile World Congress 2019 Los Angeles in front of a live audience.

Team GatorWings from University of Florida took home the $2 million first prize, followed by MarmotE from Vanderbilt University in second with $1 million, and Zylinium, a start-up, in third with $750,000.

Throughout the competition, SC2 demonstrated how AI can help to meet spiking demand for spectrum. As program manager Paul Tilghman noted in his closing remarks from the SC2 stage: “Our competitors packed 3.5 times more wireless signals into the spectrum than we’re capable of today. Our teams outperformed static allocations and demonstrated greater performance than current wireless standards like LTE. The paradigm of collaborative AI and wireless is here to stay and will propel us from spectrum scarcity to spectrum abundance.”

Learn more about SC2 at: https://www.spectrumcollaborationchallenge.com

#DARPASC2

SubT Challenge Virtual Urban Circuit Practice Worlds

Teams seeking to qualify for the Virtual Urban Circuit of the Subterranean Challenge can access practice worlds to test their approaches prior to submitting solutions for the competition. This video previews three of the practice environments. The virtual testbed is available at https://subtchallenge.world/. The qualification deadline is Jan. 3, 2020. For more on the Subterranean Challenge, visit https://www.subtchallenge.com/.

SC2 Winners Panel, Mobile World Congress LA 2019

The three prize winning teams from the SC2 Championship — GatorWings, MarmotE & Zylinium — talk about their experiences in a panel discussion moderated by Paul Tilghman, DARPA SC2 Program Manager on October 24, 2019 at Mobile World Congress Los Angeles.

Preview: Subterranean Challenge Urban Circuit (Virtual)

This video provides a preview of the qualification environment for the Virtual Urban Circuit of the Subterranean (SubT) Challenge. In the SubT Challenge, teams deploy autonomous ground and aerial systems to attempt to map, identify, and report artifacts along courses in underground environments. The artifacts represent items a first responder or service member may encounter in underground environments. The SubT Challenge Systems and Virtual competitions aim to create a community of multidisciplinary teams from wide-ranging fields to foster breakthrough technologies in autonomy, perception, networking, and mobility for underground environments.

Preview: Subterranean Challenge Urban Circuit (Systems)

In the Subterranean (SubT) Challenge, teams deploy autonomous ground and aerial systems to attempt to map, identify, and report artifacts along competition courses in underground environments. The artifacts represent items a first responder or service member may encounter in unknown underground sites. This video provides a preview of the to-be-announced Urban Circuit event location.

2019 SubT Challenge Virtual Tunnel Circuit Compilation

Eight teams developed, tested, and submitted software-based solutions for simulation-based evaluation in the Subterranean Challenge Virtual Tunnel Circuit. The video is a compilation of teams’ solutions.

Meet the Teams of DARPA’s AlphaDogfight Trials!

DARPA has selected eight teams to compete in the AlphaDogfight Trials, a virtual competition designed to demonstrate advanced artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms that can perform simulated within-visual-range air combat maneuvering, colloquially known as a dogfight. Get the details: https://go.usa.gov/xpqtN.

The Trials aim to energize and expand a base of AI developers and potential proposers prior to an anticipated algorithm-development solicitation to be released under DARPA’s Air Combat Evolution (ACE) program (https://www.darpa.mil/news-events/2019-05-08). Announced earlier this year, ACE seeks to automate air-to-air combat and build human trust in AI as a step toward improved human-machine teaming. DARPA’s vision is that with trusted AI able to manage lower-order operations, pilots could focus on higher-order strategic challenges such as orchestrating teams of unmanned aircraft across the battlespace under DARPA’s Mosaic Warfare concept (https://www.darpa.mil/work-with-us/darpa-tiles-together-a-vision-of-mosiac-warfare).

Highlights from the Spectrum Collaboration Challenge Championship Event

On October 23, 2019, ten teams of finalists gathered to compete one last time in the Championship Event of DARPA’s Spectrum Collaboration Challenge (SC2), a three-year competition designed to unlock the true potential of the radio frequency (RF) spectrum with artificial intelligence. DARPA held the Championship Event at Mobile World Congress 2019 Los Angeles in front of a live audience.

Team GatorWings from University of Florida took home the $2 million first prize, followed by MarmotE from Vanderbilt University in second with $1 million, and Zylinium, a start-up, in third with $750,000.

Throughout the competition, SC2 demonstrated how AI can help to meet spiking demand for spectrum. As program manager Paul Tilghman noted in his closing remarks from the SC2 stage: “Our competitors packed 3.5 times more wireless signals into the spectrum than we’re capable of today. Our teams outperformed static allocations and demonstrated greater performance than current wireless standards like LTE. The paradigm of collaborative AI and wireless is here to stay and will propel us from spectrum scarcity to spectrum abundance.”

Learn more about SC2 at: https://www.spectrumcollaborationchallenge.com/.

#DARPASC2

Meet the Teams of DARPA’s AlphaDogfight Trials!

DARPA has selected eight teams to compete in the AlphaDogfight Trials, a virtual competition designed to demonstrate advanced artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms that can perform simulated within-visual-range air combat maneuvering, colloquially known as a dogfight. Get the details: https://go.usa.gov/xpqtN.

The Trials aim to energize and expand a base of AI developers and potential proposers prior to an anticipated algorithm-development solicitation to be released under DARPA’s Air Combat Evolution (ACE) program (https://www.darpa.mil/news-events/2019-05-08). Announced earlier this year, ACE seeks to automate air-to-air combat and build human trust in AI as a step toward improved human-machine teaming. DARPA’s vision is that with trusted AI able to manage lower-order operations, pilots could focus on higher-order strategic challenges such as orchestrating teams of unmanned aircraft across the battlespace under DARPA’s Mosaic Warfare concept (https://www.darpa.mil/work-with-us/darpa-tiles-together-a-vision-of-mosiac-warfare).

ERI Summit 2019: Dr. Rich Uhlig, Managing Director, Intel Labs

From Labs to Impact

Announced in June 2017, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Electronics Resurgence Initiative (ERI) is a five-year, upwards of $1.5 billion investment in the future of domestic, U.S. government, and defense electronics systems. ERI is forging forward-looking collaborations to enable microelectronics progress through circuit specialization and to ensure secure DoD access to next-generation electronics technologies.

ERI currently encompasses 20 programs—organized into four thrusts—managed by 12 program managers. The 3D heterogeneous integration thrust is enabling tight incorporation of differing circuit components, including through the development of the first state of the art electrical interface standard supported by an open source reference design. The novel materials and devices thrust is delivering new materials technologies to the domestic manufacturing base, demonstrating the first commercial manufacture of resistive RAM devices integrated with carbon nanotube transistors in a silicon compatible process. The design and security thrust is accelerating delivery of specialized circuitry and creating new opportunities for the safe use of open-source IP, recently showing that unknown chip design flaws can be rapidly located. The specialization thrust is optimizing systems for commercial and defense functions, such as driving towards ASIC-level performance in runtime programmable processors. Building on the tradition of successful government-industry partnerships, these and other ERI programs will enable the United States to collaboratively innovate a 4th wave of microelectronics progress and to create a more specialized, secure, and heavily automated electronics industry that meets national defense and commercial needs.

Visit www.eri-summit.com for more details on the ERI Summit, including slide downloads.

SC2 Colosseum on the Move

After a week of preparation for cross-country deployment, Colosseum – the world’s most powerful RF channel emulator – is officially en route to Los Angeles, California! All 21 server racks containing 128 software defined radios, 320 FPGAs, 171 high-performance servers, thousands of cables, and a host of supporting equipment will make the more than 2,600-mile trek from Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, Maryland to Los Angeles over the next week. Colosseum’s final destination is the LA Convention Center for the 2019 Mobile World Congress Los Angeles conference and SC2’s Championship Event.

To learn more about Colosseum, visit

The Colosseum