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Army Looking at UAV-Ground Robot Comms

by John Reed on April 20, 2011

We all know Robots and UAVs are great on their own for things from bomb detection and disposal to actually destroying the enemy but now soldiers at Fort Benning, GA, are starting to experiment with using Raven UAVs to serve as flying communications relays for SUGV ground robots.

“Line of sight [communications distance] is 300 meters out for the ground robots, right now we’re trying to increase the distance by using the Ravens to transmit the single for the digital data link down to the ground Robots and push them out to maybe about a” kilometer, said Sergeant First Class, Jose Blanco, an Army Raven UAV instructor at Fort Benning during an April 20 phone call with bloggers. “If we can keep the ground soldiers from being seen by the enemy” or allow them to see one more insurgent burying an IED “then it’s going to save lives.”

As an added bonus, the robot-airplane combo may even be able to pass sensitive information via the aircraft’s encrypted data-link, according to Blanco, who wouldn’t elaborate on the subject.

While we’ve all heard of the Pentagon using a variant of the massive RQ-4 Global Hawk drone to serve as an aerial communications relay and translation device over the mountains of Afghanistan, this is the first time I’ve heard of small UAVs being eyed seriously as communications relays, especially for robots. Pretty cool.

 

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