A small army robot could use this new networking technology


Defense contractor QinetiQ will leverage networking technologies from Persistent Systems as part of a contract to help the military build a small robot that will help soldiers on the battlefield.

The Army’s Common Robotic System – Individual program aims to build a small robot that soldiers can pack in a backpack and aid in reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition.

But in order for these robots to perform these tasks effectively, they will need to have consistent communication with soldiers and other robots. In a June 12 press release, Persistent Systems announced that it would supply the networking technology to QinetiQ as a subcontractor. QinetiQ has an indefinite delivery contract worth up to $ 164 million on the Army program.

Persistent’s networking technology is called a Mobile Ad Hoc Network, or MANET, said Leslie Hulser, director of programs at Persistent. The ad hoc nature of the network means that each device is both a sender and a receiver, eliminating the need for a fixed communications infrastructure, she said. MANET technology allows a soldier to communicate with ground and air robots as well as other soldiers in the field, Hulser said.

Persistent will deploy the fifth generation of its Wave Relay MANET technology for the project, which includes an on-board Android operating system, moving from single input to single output (SISO) to multiple output to multiple inputs (MIMO), l ‘introduction of a new form factor, full duplex audio, on-board video encoder and decoder, and size and weight reduction.

Switching from SISO to MIMO increases bandwidth and operating range and increases the likelihood of successfully sending a message, Hulser said.

The military expects to deploy the program in fiscal year 2020.

Cal Pringle is general editor for Defense News, C4ISRNET and Fifth Domain. He attends the University of Richmond.


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