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To enable emergency responders and others to establish temporary wireless networks in the future, electrical engineering researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have received $6.5 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to understand the physical constraints on such networks.

“The agency rarely funds a grant of this size for basic theoretical research”, noted Jeffrey Andrews, the leader of the project at the university’s Wireless Networking and Communications Group. Robert Heath and Sanjay Shakkottai, fellow assistant professors in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, will also help lead an eight-university team to develop a novel theory that describes the performance limits of temporary, or ad-hoc, mobile wireless networks.

Ad-hoc networks can be used anytime wired infrastructure is inaccessible, and enable the quick addition of network devices to the network. The technology could improve communications in emergency or military situations where users rapidly change locations. Countries with immature telecommunications infrastructure could use the approach to inexpensively deploy broadband Internet access.

Research participants include Peter Stone, an assistant professor of computer sciences at the university, and colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, Notre Dame, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Minnesota, the University of California, Irvine, and the University of Southern California.

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