New AI-enabled technology developed by Vanderbilt, 101st Airborne deployed for training of NATO and NATO-partner units in Europe
Spc. Austin Dix monitors the spectrum on the Versatile Radio Observation and Direction system. (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL

HOHENFELS, Germany- Advanced Dynamic Spectrum Reconnaissance (ADSR) is a standout example of the success of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command and the Army Research Laboratory Pathfinder program has had empowering Soldiers and researchers to rapidly develop and advance solutions to real-world challenges in the field. One of the first Pathfinder projects executed by Vanderbilt and refined through testing with Soldiers from the 101st Airborne, ADSR is an artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled system that allows the Army’s wireless communications networks to sense and avoid enemy jamming and reduce radio frequency RF emissions that could allow an enemy to target Army forces.

“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,” Senator 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.”

The new ADSR technology was recently put into action by Electronic Warfare Soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division during the Combined Resolve exercise at the 7th Army Training Command’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Germany. Soldiers were able to further test the system and provide training to NATO and NATO-partner units.

“Electronic warfare units within [Brigade Combat Teams] BCTs are always looking for an edge when targeting the enemy,” said 1st Lt. Brenden Shutt, a cyber warfare officer with the 3rd ID. “Sensing capabilities that provide a real-time understanding of the spectrum drive our efforts to identify the enemy’s electromagnetic signature so we can rapidly deliver effects on the battlefield. We rely on the continuous innovation of our tactics and technology to maintain dominance in electronic warfare.”

Initially developed by a team of researchers at Vanderbilt University in connection with two challenge competitions sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), 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 Civil-Military Innovation Institute’s (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 Distinguished 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 projects like ADSR, in bringing cutting-edge academic research into practical military applications.

“Pathfinder continues to be an exciting partnership between the Army, partner universities, and the State of Tennessee,” Senator 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.”