Stealth, in collaboration with the George Washington University and Georgetown University under the DARPA Mobile Anti-Totalitarian HumaNets (MATH) SBIR opportunity, is developing a software system for a phone-to-phone ad-hoc message transmission network.  The Stealth solution, named MARATHON: Mobile Adaptive Relay Anti-Totalitarian Human Overlay Network, leverages cryptographic and networking techniques to provide improved user data-privacy and message-delivery success guarantees over the state-of-art HumaNet system.

Human movement networks (HumaNets) are high latency, probabilistic message delivery systems in which messages are passed human-to-human via on-person mobile devices.  HumaNets rely on the principle that people have regular movement patterns and that these patterns lead to natural (probabilistic) encounters that, over time, will enable messages to be routed toward a target receiver or a geographic destination.  The key idea of HumaNets is that messages can be routed toward a destination by using local decisions of participating phones to determine whether or not they are good carriers.

In this R&D effort, we are building an advanced message delivery system over human-relay networks with strengthened security and improved routing decisions as the core of the MARATHON project.  MARATHON is aimed at providing a system with low throughput but reasonable latency and maximum reliability for delivery of important messages.  The system will enable users to securely deliver messages even in the presence of adversarial behavior within human-relay networks.  As an additional feature of the system, we intend to build a bulletin board-like system as a convenient interface for broadcasting and communicating threads of messages.

We envision the MARATHON project as enabling several application scenarios.  At the forefront of applications is assisting warfighters behind enemy lines who are trying to get messages across but do not have easy or secure access to the internet.  Other potential application areas arise where internet infrastructure is either limited or has been crippled.  Scenarios such as natural disasters or terrorist attacks can limit the capability of both internet and telephony infrastructure; in such emergency settings, using our technology to enable communication between getting citizens and first responders could serve as a stop-gap measure where otherwise there would be no connectivity.  Of course, time is of the essence in such settings, but having MARATHON as a reliable mobile relay option can provide additional robustness in communication networks where infrastructure has been compromised.  Similarly, in developing regions, the ability for slow, reliable communications is important to inform otherwise disconnected populations.

This work was supported by DARPA under contract number FA8650-22-C-6424, Distribution Statement A: “Approved for Public Release, Distribution Unlimited. If you have any questions, please contact the Public Release Center”. The views, opinions and/or findings expressed are those of the author and should not be interpreted as representing the official views or policies of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.