SSC Pacific
Communication Relays



Providing long-distance non-line-of-sight control for unmanned ground robots has long been recognized as a problem, considering the nature of the required high-bandwidth radio links. These links operate roughly on line of sight, which presents numerous problems for teleoperation, especially for the man-portable class of UGVs. The low height of their antennas means dips and rises in the terrain often block line of sight to the operator or significantly reduce the Fresnel-zone clearance, thus breaking the communication link. Operation in urban environments exacerbates the problem.

In the early 2000s, the DARPA Mobile Autonomous Robot Software (MARS) program funded the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SSC) Pacific to demonstrate a capability for autonomous mobile communication relaying on a number of Pioneer laboratory robots. This effort also resulted in the development of ad hoc networking radios and software that were later leveraged in the development of a more practical and logistically simpler system, the Automatically Deployed Communication Relays (ADCR). Funded by the Joint Ground Robotics Enterprise and internally by SSC Pacific, several generations of ADCR systems introduced increasingly more capable hardware and software for automatic maintenance of communication links through deployment of static relay nodes from mobile robots. This capability was finally tapped in 2010 to fulfill an urgent need from theater. 243 kits of ruggedized, robot-deployable communication relays (Manually-Deployed Communication Relays--MDCR) were produced and sent to Afghanistan to extend the range of EOD and tactical ground robots in 2012. An internal effort to automate the deployment of these ruggedized and fielded relay nodes was conducted in 2013.

For further information, see:

  • Nguyen, H., Pezeshkian, N., Burmeister, A., and A. Hart, "Unmanned Ground Vehicle Communications Relays - Lessons Learned", Technical Report 2042, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific, San Diego, CA, April 2014. 
  • Nguyen, H., Pezeshkian, N., Hart, A., Burmeister, A., Holz, K., Neff, J., and L. Roth, "Evolution of a radio communication relay system", SPIE Proc. 8741: Unmanned Systems Technology XV, Baltimore, MD, May 1-3, 2013. 
  • Pezeshkian, N., Neff, J.D., and A. Hart, "Link Quality Estimator for a Mobile Robot", 9th Int. Conf. on Informatics in Control, Automation and Robotics (ICINCO 2012), Rome, Italy, July 28-31, 2012. 
  • Hart, A., Pezeshkian, N., and H. Nguyen, "Mesh networking optimized for robotic teleoperation", SPIE Proc. 8387: Unmanned Systems Technology XIV, Baltimore, MD, April 25-27, 2012. 
  • Pezeshkian, N., Nguyen, H.G., Burmeister, A.B., Holz, K.F., and A. Hart, "Automatic payload deployment system", SPIE Proc. 7692: Unmanned Systems Technology XII, Orlando, FL, April 5 - 9, 2010. 
  • Pezeshkian, N., Nguyen, H.G., Burmeister, A.B., Holz, K.F., and A. Hart, "A Modular Design Approach for the Automatic Payload Deployment System", AUVSI Unmanned Systems North America, Denver, CO, August 24 - 27, 2010. 
  • Pezeshkian, N., Nguyen, H.G., and A. Burmeister, “Unmanned Ground Vehicle Radio Relay Deployment System for Non-line-of-sight Operations,” Proc. 13th IASTED Int. Conf. on Robotics and Applications, Wuerzburg, Germany, August 29-31, 2007. 
  • Nguyen, H.G., Pezeshkian, N., Gupta, A., and N. Farrington, "Maintaining Communication Link for a Robot Operating in a Hazardous Environment", ANS 10th Int. Conf. on Robotics and Remote Systems for Hazardous Environments, Gainesville, FL, March 28 - 31, 2004. 
  • Nguyen, H.G., Pezeshkian, N., Raymond, M., Gupta, A., and J.M. Spector, "Autonomous Communication Relays for Tactical Robots", IEEE 11th Int. Conf. on Advanced Robotics (ICAR 2003), Coimbra, Portugal, June 30-July 3, 2003. 

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Updated: 6/16/2014 8:54 AM EST   Published (1.0)