How DARPA Trucked Its Massive Radio-Frequency Testbed Across the United States

Read Time1 Minute, 56 Second
IEEE Spectrum describes how the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) partnered with Pivot Technology Services to help them relocate their massive radio-frequency emulation testbed, called “Colosseum.” The testbed was built for the agency’s Spectrum Collaboration Challenge (SC2) — a three-year competition to demonstrate the validity of using AI to work together in order to use wireless spectrum more efficiently than operating on pre-allocated bands. Slashdot reader Wave723 shares an excerpt from the report: Colosseum was originally built and housed at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. That changed at the beginning of October, when the testbed was dismantled and later trucked to Los Angeles for the competition’s finale, scheduled to begin at 3:30pm PDT today at MWC Los Angeles. […] There may have been some molehills during the checks, but moving Colosseum definitely qualifies as a mountain. The testbed uses 3 Peta-Ops per second of computing power and 52 terabytes per second of data to emulate 65,000 channel operations between 256 wireless devices. It can draw up to 92 kilowatts of power and requires 200 gallons of water per minute to cycle through its cooling system to keep it from overheating.

Colosseum is housed within a space twice of the size of a cargo container — in fact, its housing is literally built from two converted cargo containers put side by side. The halves arrived at the Los Angeles Convention Center during the set-up for MWC Los Angeles, and were hauled into the building and onto the convention floor by two 18-wheelers. We’re going to move right past the crazy fact that DARPA and its hired logistics companies drove two semi-trucks into the Los Angeles Convention Center, because it gets better. To actually lower Colosseum’s halves onto the ground, the next step involved something that both Tilghman and Gabel referred to as a “forklift ballet.” As it turned out, the convention center didn’t have a forklift strong enough to lift either half, so everyone improvised and used four smaller forklifts simultaneously by carefully arranging them around each half of Colosseum. It worked, but Gabel, in showing me a video of the forklift ballet, pointed out a moment where one of the forklift’s rear wheels lifted off the ground as the machine and its operator grappled with Colosseum’s weight…

0 0