SSC Pacific
Communication Relays: UPDS



While demonstrating the ADCR system to the US Marine Corps I Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF), the SSC Pacific team received numerous suggestions on other payloads that could be delivered by the ADCR Deployer Module. These suggestions led to the development of UPDS (also known as Automatic Payload Deployment System--APDS) in FY09-10, also funded by the JGRE. In order to support as many different types of payloads as possible, UPDS nodes employed a very modular design. This modularity also extended to the Deployer Module, making it easily adaptable to different types of robots.

The UPDS Deployer Module could accept three different payload sizes, from single to triple height (see Figure 4). Each payload was composed of a payload carrier (which contains the actual payload) and a snap-on payload adapter that communicated to the Deployer Module using an infrared interface. This allowed third-party developers to build their own payloads, which only had to conform to a set of SSC Pacific interface specifications. The infrared communication allowed the Deployer Module to detect what type of payload it carried and adjust its behaviors accordingly. For example, the Deployer Module would know that the next payload in line to be dropped was a passive payload containing supplies, and would skip over it to deploy a radio relay payload if it sensed an impending break in communications.

Similarly, the Deployer Module also had a snap-on adapter specific to each type of robot. Thus each robot manufacturer could design a specific Deployer Module adapter to use the UPDS on their robots.

The system also included a base station unit that connected to the OCU via an Ethernet cable and contained a radio similar to those found in the relay nodes and the Deployer Module. The base station unit had its own video screen to display status of the payloads and to allow the operator to manually control the deployment of various payloads as needed. Three example payloads were developed: (1) an IR illuminator that could be deployed to illuminate locations of interest at night, (2) a leave-behind video sensor that used the network to transmit its video data back to the base station unit, and (3) an empty triple-height payload that could be used to carry medical supplies, food, or ammunition to the Warfighter at the front line. A marsupial robotics capability has been demonstrated by deploying a magnetic-wheel micro-UGV using the empty payload carrier.

The UPDS, showing various components.
Figure 4. The UPDS, showing various components.

For further information, see:

  • 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. 
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Updated: 7/15/2013 10:18 AM EST   Published