US Army Special Operations Forces (SOF) operate in austere environments, often training and conducting missions with local counterparts and living with the same limited access to resources and communication infrastructure.

Furthermore, the technological advantage that SOF operators enjoy is quickly eroding as adversaries rapidly develop new capabilities.

Operating Constraints

This austere operating environment imposes several technological constraints on operations:


Only what they can carry in on their backs. The weight of power sources and electronics hardware is a limiting constraint on how much processing and communication capability a team can have in the field. Energy efficient solutions, high energy-density power sources, and an innovative combination of both can increase these capabilities.


Limited traditional satellite, radio, or other connectivity. SOF must be able to operate independently wherever they are deployed without any assumption of support from back home or from allies.


Mobile systems must be hardened against hostile intrusions and communications must be encrypted.

Focus Areas

This hackathon will address two challenges of properly equipping operators with the tools necessary to accomplish their missions.

Edge Processing

Computer processing currently relies on bulky and heavy hardware and power sources. How can we improve the ability to perform complex, analytical tasks (e.g., computer vision, natural language processing) in the field without access to cloud computing?

Data Transmission

Operators often have requirements to transmit large amounts of data to command elements when there is little or no communications infrastructure available. For example, they may be required to stream high definition, full-motion, real-time video or store up to 32 hours’ worth of data for later transmission.

What innovative capabilities can be developed to collect, manage, and transmit data in austere environments?

Additional Information

Ideal solutions should be platform agnostic and minimize the size and weight of hardware and power sources.

NSIN will provide up to $90K in total awards to winning teams to further develop their concepts.


17 MAY: Hackathon event begins

19 MAY: Hackathon event ends