DARPA looking for a "clean slate" for MANETs

Goal is to investigate radical concepts for 20X increase in MANET size.

With mobile ad hoc networks (MANET) limited to about 50 nodes before network services become ineffective, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) this week issued a Request for Information that calls for research paper abstracts describing bold, new technical approaches to overcoming the MANET scaling problem.

For the past 20 years, researchers have unsuccessfully used Internet-based concepts in attempts to significantly scale MANETs. In its RFI, DARPA wants to explore new technologies unencumbered by Internet protocols that could be the key to enabling large MANETs.

“Although the Internet facilitated far-reaching technical advances, in this technology area the Internet may be the roadblock,” said DARPA in a press statement announcing the RFI. “The MANET scaling goals will not be satisfied with incremental improvement using existing protocols and concepts. Truly revolutionary ideas will explore new paradigms that allow users to effectively share information unshackled from existing constraints.“

Mark Rich, DARPA program manager, explained in the statement. “A MANET of a thousand nodes could support an entire battalion without the need for manual network setup, management and maintenance that comes from switchboard-era communications. This could provide more troops with robust services such as real-time video imagery, enhanced situational awareness and other services that we have not yet imagined.”

The most innovative and promising concepts presented in the RFIs will be presented as papers at a symposium entitled, “Novel Methods for Information Sharing in Large-Scale Mobile Ad Hoc Networks,” to be held Aug. 7-8, 2013, at the DARPA conference center.

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