Robotic Radio Communication System
Background Mobile robots are increasingly used for operations completed in life- threatening and hazardous environments, such as in mining and explosive disposal industries. The use of robots normally requires a strong, long- range signal that relies on line of sight communication. High- frequency digital and analog radios are currently used, but are subject to many limitations such as limited radio and battery power, limited signal range, and interference and fading, which is undesirable when used in urban environments and dangerous settings. To overcome these limitations, power amplifiers can be added for increased range, however, constrained real estate and increased battery power consumption become limiting factors. Additionally, adding a higher antenna to the robot can increase the signal range, but may not be practical for robot maneuvering. The Technology SSC San Diego has developed a method and system for using a robot and relay radio system to maintain the communications link between the user and the robot. The system continuously monitors the network, and automatically deploys relay radios when needed to maintain a strong signal. When the signal falls below a predetermined threshold, it triggers the release of the relay radios before the strongest signal breaks. Each relay radio automatically positions itself upright and opens to release the antenna. The radios form a network, and maintain a line of sight between each radio to complete the link between the user and the robot. The system automatically deploys the radios without dependence on the user, which improves effectiveness and decreases the error rate. Key Benefits The system automatically deploys the relay radios, requiring minimal dependence on the user for initial setup Allows users to choose when to deploy the relay radios if desired System requires no external power, which increases its range of operation While in sleep mode and not in use, the system consumes extremely low levels of power, allowing it to last for months without recharging Reduces risk to humans by performing operations in dangerous conditions System is able to travel longer distances and into areas other robots not utilizing the system cannot Development Status DoD 5000 Series Technical Readiness Level 6: System prototype demonstration in an operational environment Operational test data results available Second generation system with increased functionality currently in development 8 years and $1.5 million total research and development.