Feeds

DARPA to begin mysterious 'Project GANDALF'

'And with you come evils worse than before'

Build a business case: developing custom apps

The renowned US military ultratech agency, DARPA*, is about to begin work on a mysterious new piece of surveillance and tracking kit known only as "Project Gandalf".

According to the initial announcement (pdf) regarding an industry briefing for contractors who might be interested, the details of the Gandalf programme are classified "SECRET/NOFORN" (meaning no non-Americans are allowed to know about it, and even US citizens will need a security clearance). However, DARPA is willing to say this much:

The Gandalf program is an advanced technology and development and demonstration program that is seeking solutions to ... radio frequency (RF) geolocation and emitter identification using specific emitter identification (SEI) for specific signals of interest. The ultimate goal of the Gandalf program is to enable a set of handheld devices to be utilized to perform RF geolocation and SEI on RF signals of interest to the Gandalf program. The specific goals and performance objectives associated with RF geolocation and SEI for the Gandalf system are classified.

So it would appear that a group of undercover operatives or special-forces troops dispersed near a target (perhaps a specific cell or satellite phone) might carry portable gadgets, presumably networked. The netted devices would be able to pick out the phone, radio or whatever they were after and track it.

This sort of thing is already done by surveillance aircraft and/or drones; the new wrinkle is being able to do it using handheld devices. So Project Gandalf kit is presumably intended for situations where the spy planes and drones can't be used - perhaps where the local government is unaware of the operation, or will permit the US to have people on the ground but not aircraft in the sky.

As far as the technology goes, the idea sounds feasible. Commercial pico/microcell gear, for instance - with all the capabilities needed to ID and locate cell phones - is already easily down to briefcase size. Satellite phones would be harder, of course.

Normally DARPA's ideas are much more ambitious - not so much bleeding-edge technology as kit sharp enough to chop your feet off without you noticing until you went for a walk. So in fact - if Project Gandalf is truly "DARPA hard" to achieve - it could well be targeted at emitters more elusive and harder to ID than ordinary cell phones.

There might be a few more details when the anticipated Broad Agency Announcement comes out. We'll keep you posted if so. ®

*Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
LOHAN packs bags for SPACEPORT AMERICA!
Spanish launch goes titsup, we're off to the US of A
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
Boffins build CYBORG-MOTHRA but not for evil: For search & rescue
This tiny bio-bot will chew through your clothes then save your life
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.