Advanced Dynamic Spectrum Reconnaissance is a standout example of the success of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, Army Research Laboratory Pathfinder program, empowering soldiers and researchers to collaborate to rapidly develop and advance solutions to real-world challenges in the field in partnership with the defense innovation nonprofit Civil-Military Innovation Institute. One of the first Pathfinder projects executed by Vanderbilt, ADSR is an artificial intelligence-enabled system that allows the Army’s wireless communications networks to sense and avoid enemy jamming and reduce radio frequency emissions that could allow an enemy to target Army forces.
The 7th Army Training Command requested the installment of the ADSR technology developed by Vanderbilt and refined through testing with soldiers from the 101st Airborne at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Germany to assist in the training of NATO and NATO-partner units at the site beginning in September 2023.
“Our service men and women represent the very best of America, and we must ensure that they are equipped with the greatest tools and technologies that enhance their capabilities to defeat any enemy,” U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn said. “That’s why I have consistently supported the Pathfinder program, which leverages research at great universities like Vanderbilt and the University of Tennessee to solve some of the Army’s toughest problems. This partnership is vital as we work to maintain U.S. military dominance over our adversaries.”
Initially developed by a team of researchers at Vanderbilt in connection with two challenge competitions sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the ADSR technology has been continuously refined since 2021 through a series of operational experiments with soldiers from the 101st at Fort Campbell, including experiments at the Smardan Training Area in eastern Romania and the CMI2 Adaptive Experimentation Facility in central West Virginia.
“The technologies we leveraged for the ADSR effort would likely never have seen the light of day were it not for Pathfinder,” said Adam Jay Harrison, Vanderbilt Entrepreneur in Residence and member of the ADSR team. “It wasn’t until Pathfinder surfaced the Army’s specific operational need and provided a mechanism for soldier engagement that we discovered how our technology could be used to deliver a compelling solution.”
In April 2023, the ADSR technology was tested during a long-range air assault exercise conducted by the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) in West Virginia. The endeavor, part of CMI2’s Driving Innovation in Realistic Training Days, saw soldiers engage in realistic scenario-based training while testing emerging technologies. The real-world trial underscored the value of the Pathfinder program, and of projects like ADSR, in bringing cutting-edge academic research into practical military applications.
Now, with the deployment of ADSR to Europe, soldiers in the field can benefit from this new technology.
“Pathfinder continues to be an exciting partnership between the Army, partner universities and the State of Tennessee,” U.S. Sen. Bill Hagerty said. “With this project, the Army gains state-of-the-art technological capabilities requested by the front-line warfighters, university students get exposure to real-world problems that can be used to shape future research, and Tennessee benefits from the creation of high-paying technology jobs associated with Pathfinder-Air Assault related projects.”
Pathfinder projects like this one also benefit economic development in the region: A startup business spun out of Vanderbilt in 2021, Xtremis LLC, is commercializing the ADSR technology.
About Vanderbilt University
Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, Tennessee, is a private research university offering a full range of undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees.
About U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, Army Research Laboratory
As the Army’s foundational research laboratory, ARL is operationalizing science to achieve transformational overmatch. Through collaboration across the command’s core technical competencies, DEVCOM leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make soldiers more successful at winning the nation’s wars and come home safely. DEVCOM Army Research Laboratory is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. DEVCOM is a major subordinate command of the Army Futures Command.
About Civil-Military Innovation Institute
CMI2 is a nonprofit organization that fosters innovation through direct and constant collaboration between service members and researchers, creating functional solutions to support soldiers.