One reason that I love the military is that they truly think out of the box and are not only cutting-edge, but they continuously innovate. They drive change that ripples throughout all areas of the economy, and they use the best from the private sector and make it even cooler.
If you’re into robotics, you’ve most certainly heard of the Roomba from iRobot that vacuums floors on auto-pilot.
Now the military is taking that idea and through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) developing a robot that will aid battlefield communications.
MIT Technology Review, 11 March 2008, reports that “iRobot is developing communications robots for the military.”
“Expendable robots that can be tossed into a building or over a wall…will be used to set up communications networks to assist soldiers in urban battlefields,” where communication are often by impeded by obstacles and structures that “reflect, refract, diffract, and absorb radio signals leading to signal loss and attenuation.”
These robot are call Local Area Network or LAN-droids, and they will have autonomous positioning systems so that the bots will be mobile and be able to adapt to get the best signal. The bots “will use 801.11g Wi-Fi standards to form mobile ad hoc networks that can repair and reroute themselves if, for example, the enemy destroys a robot.”
The robots, each costing less than $100, will “weigh less than a kilogram and [be]…about 10 centimeters long,” so soldiers can carry multiple bots and be able to throw them into position.
The robots are planned to be able to travel at “half a meter a second and be capable of functioning for up to 10 hours.”
The LANdroids prototype is expected by the end of the year.
What a terrific target architecture! Focused on mission requirements with a vision for improved results of operation, DARPA is aligning technology solutions to the soldier’s needs for better, more reliable communication in the battlefield.
Further, the LANdroid is a solution that is grounded in market reality. Using the Roomba vacuum robot as a model for mobile bot technology, DARPA is taking it to the next level. They are applying the technology to their mission space and upping the ante on the adversary.
In a sense that is what EA is all about, staying one or more steps ahead of the competition whether in terms of business process efficiency, quality products and services, and technology enablement. EA engineers the organization to succeed.
Today it’s the LANDdroid, tomorrow the Battlefield KillerBot.