Brussels / 3 & 4 February 2018


Recapping DARPA's First Big Hackfest

An overview of the DARPA Bay Area SDR Hackfest (

In November of 2017, the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) held its first large-scale Hackfest. The DARPA Bay Area SDR Hackfest focused on using software defined radio (SDR) to control unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), otherwise known as drones. The week-long Hackfest involved a set of Missions that were tackled by eight teams selected earlier in the year, a series of speakers to give two talks per day, and an open Hacker Space to allow anyone who wanted room to hack, explore, and work on projects.

DARPA created this event to explore a number of questions. First, who else is working in the field of SDR and UAVs that might be able to contribute to the DARPA mission? What new ideas and innovations might prove significant to the future of SDR and UAV technology in the future? And how does free and open source software (FOSS) enable talented engineers and scientists to answer hard technical challenges quickly? The event produced interesting results, and in this talk, we will examine what came out of the Hackfest and think about the future purposes of these kinds of events and ways of engaging the developer communities.


Photo of Tom Rondeau Tom Rondeau