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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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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

blight April 20, 2011 at 3:58 pm

It's certainly cheaper, and puts the communication system in the hands of the Army and not the air force. The more centralized the node (eg Global Hawk) the greater the demands on bandwidth that the Global Hawk might not be able to meet.

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Larry Ice April 20, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Skynet lives!

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Morty April 20, 2011 at 7:27 pm

I dont know the air force seamed to do a prety good job

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Steven R April 20, 2011 at 7:56 pm

are they wearing multicam? what are those guys?

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Nate T April 20, 2011 at 9:10 pm

Future Force Warrior demo, I believe?

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Stephen Russell April 20, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Other apps:
Search Rescue
Intelligence
Mapping
Rescue
EOD
Mine laying or mine sensors.
scan booby traps?
ferret out enemy forces.

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alexg1101 April 20, 2011 at 10:54 pm

Xbox 360 controller in the picture above?

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Chris April 21, 2011 at 8:38 am

Game controllers are pretty common in military applications these days, operators are likely to be experienced with them and components are cheap.

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man April 21, 2011 at 8:41 am

nv mount with an xbox controller for a billion dollar robot.
genius

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Jeff April 21, 2011 at 9:26 am

I understand that when it comes to equipment and vehicles, there will always be a time when something gets stuck, but it seems kinda silly to use any robot that needs the kind of help getting around, in the picture.

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Jeff April 21, 2011 at 9:27 am

It just makes me think of a kid pulling his red wagon along.

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Morty April 21, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Get a life!!!

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