Autonomous Mobile Communication Relays
SPACE AND NAVAL WARFARE SYSTEMS CENTER SAN DIEGO CA
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Maintaining a solid radio communication link between a mobile robot entering a building and an external base station is a well-recognized problem. Modern digital radios, while affording high bandwidth and Internet-protocol-based automatic routing capabilities, tend to operate on line-of-sight links. The communication link degrades quickly as a robot penetrates deeper into the interior of a building. This project investigates the use of mobile autonomous communication relay nodes to extend the effective range of a mobile robot exploding a complex interior environment. Each relay node is a small mobile slave robot equipped with sonar, ladar, and 802.IIb radio repeater. For demonstration purposes, four Pioneer 2-Dx robots are used as autonomous mobile relays, with SSC-San Diegos ROBART III acting as the lead robot. The relay robots follow the lead robot into a building and are automatically deployed at various locations to maintain a networked communication link back to the remote operator. With their on-board external sensors, they also act as rearguards to secure areas already explored by the lead robot. As the lead robot advances and RF shortcuts are detected, relay nodes that become unnecessary will be reclaimed and reused, all transparent to the operator. This project takes advantage of recent research results from several DARPA-funded tasks at various institutions in the areas of robotic simulation, wireless ad hoc networking, route planning, and navigation. This paper describes the progress of the first six months of the project.
- Radio Communications