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Re: An NI Engineer’s Perspective on the DARPA Spectrum Collaboration Challenge


We’re at the IEEE Wireless Communication and Networking Conference (WCNC) in full force this week and are thrilled to join thought leaders from academia and industry to showcase the breadth of our wireless research technologies.


And since we are showcasing a deep bench of wireless communications demos at WCNC, we interviewed an NI engineer about his experience working on our recent collaboration with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).


In case you missed the news, we’re supplying the core infrastructure for a path-breaking channel emulation testbed, called Colosseum, for the latest DARPA Spectrum Collaboration Challenge. At WCNC, attendees will have an opportunity to see a sneak peek of the final 256 channel system – we are showing a one-sixteenth demo of the Colosseum channel emulator with two MIMO user equipment user equipment devices.


Ashish Chaudhari, Senior Software Engineer at Ettus Research, a National Instruments Company, has been an integral part of the Colosseum project. “Throughout my education I was always interested in both software development and electrical engineering,” Chaudhari said. “And my favorite project at NI so far would be the Colosseum project. It provides a platform to enable engineers to solve a DARPA Grand Challenge.”



Our role in the DARPA Spectrum Collaboration Challenge is handling its RF channel emulation. This helps with simulations for many test scenarios that currently struggle with spectral efficiencies, such as busy neighborhoods and battle settings. Chaudhari said he appreciates the massive scope of the project, and understands how groundbreaking it truly is.


“What makes this project my favorite is that it is the largest-of-its-kind wireless testbed,” he said. “I have the unprecedented task of architecting the system, ensuring that the system is implemented to the specifications requested by DARPA.”


The task of system architecting does not come without its added stress, but by planning and running simulations, he is confident in the system’s success.


“Building a groundbreaking system at this scale also comes with the added pressure of making sure that it works,” Chaudhuri said. “We were able to mitigate a lot of risks early in the project by running detailed system simulations and validating all fundamental assumptions about hardware and software before integrating those components in the larger system. Ensuring that all the building blocks worked as expected reduced a lot of the common integration problems and gave me the confidence that the final product would meet all the customer’s expectations.”


The full colosseum project will be delivered to DARPA and available for testing in April and the challenge will culminate in a championship in 2019.


“It is an amalgamation of advanced software, cutting-edge design, digital signal processing, and RF calibration algorithms,” Chaudhari said. “All of which have to come together to make the largest channel emulator testbed. Designing a system of this scale is a great opportunity and I am glad to be a part of it.”


Learn more about Project Colosseum >>>


View NI SDR solutions >>


I loved it! This is great demo, that modularity is outstanding not mentioning number of users and user configurable channel, I had to really really focused to fully imagine all that great features, I would like to see also poster, with that this could be teaching manual Smiley Happy