Tactical Communications

Squad X aims to 'organically' integrate sensors, comm, data for small units

DARPA Squad X concept

An illustration depicts DARPA's Squad X concept.


Military researchers are looking for ways to integrate the smartphones, sensors and other wireless tools that, together, could provide small units of soldiers with an agile system of shared situational awareness in complex, fast-moving environments.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has issued a Special Notice for white papers to contribute to an infrastructure study for its Squad X program, which seeks to develop an integrated system of systems that would allow squad members to quickly collect, analyze and share data about their surroundings, each other and potential threats—and do it without taxing soldiers physically or mentally.

DARPA, in an announcement, the process would “organically extend squad awareness and influence” and give dismounted squads the same kind of decision-making support they’d get in a vehicle, ship or aircraft.

DARPA is focusing on three primary areas:

  • Integrated access to and control of mobile sensors, including streaming video.
  • A 3D common operating picture.
  • The ability to organically locate and identify friendly forces and threat locations in near real time.

The agency had issued a request for information in April 2013 looking for ideas for Squad X, which at that time it described as a potential program. Then, DARPA’s focus was on digitizing the squad, which “involves digitizing the soldier, sensing the environment, and sharing information among squad members.”

The Squad X Infrastructure Study, which is sponsored by the agency’s Tactical Technology Office, will start by exploring the infrastructure and technologies that would be required for an effective system of systems.

“We want both traditional and nontraditional performers to share innovative ideas on how to actually build a system of systems that could provide squads with real-time, trusted information in an enhanced, integrated manner while operating in dynamic and complex environments,” Maj. Christopher Orlowski, DARPA program manager, said in the agency’s announcement.

DARPA will hold an online question-and-answer session for vendors interested in submitting papers on Tuesday, July 22, at 1:30 p.m. Eastern. Questions can be sent to DARPA-BAA-14-25@darpa.mil. White papers will be due by Aug.4, with full proposals due by Oct. 3.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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