Darpa Seeks Miniature Networking Robots For Urban Combat - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Business & Finance
01:09 PM

Darpa Seeks Miniature Networking Robots For Urban Combat

The military wants droids that could intelligently choose locations and self-configure to form a mesh wireless voice/data network that isn't dependent on line of sight.

Think you can build tough little robots that use reliable wireless radio-relay to provide communications networks for urban combat? The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency may have a job for you.

Darpa recently announced that it wants proposals for self-healing miniature "LANdroids" that could help U.S. military members fighting in cities.

The droids would intelligently choose locations and self-configure to form a mesh wireless voice/data network that isn't dependent on line of sight, according to the Darpa spec sheet. The networks could supplant radio communications, which are often ineffective in urban combat. The new network pathways would be redundant.

Soldiers must be able to drop the robots (no heavier than 2.2 pounds each) and go the other way, without having to return to a dangerous area to retrieve them. The robots must be able to move slowly through indoor areas, and should cost about $100 each. Designers must use inexpensive, long-life batteries and program the robots to conserve power when necessary.

"The LANdroid is meant to be carried into the field, and as such it must not be a brittle or delicate platform," Darpa said in its 34-page announcement (PDF). "They must be sufficiently rugged and robust to perform credibly and reliably in the field. For the purposes of this task, we will evaluate platforms based on their ability to withstand reasonably hostile environments in terms of mechanical shock, vibration, temperature, dust, and humidity."

The robots don't have to be designed for climbing stairs, but Darpa said it welcomes novel ideas.

Earlier this year, Darpa issued a call for chemical robots that can morph into different shapes and can squeeze, like ferrets or worms, into spaces that appear smaller than the bots themselves. The agency said such soft, flexible, and mobile robots could gain access to hostile areas.

Darpa wants those shape-shifting warbots to be able to enter buildings, scale walls, and creep under doors, while remaining large enough to carry an "operationally meaningful payload."

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
State of the Cloud
State of the Cloud
Cloud has drastically changed how IT organizations consume and deploy services in the digital age. This research report will delve into public, private and hybrid cloud adoption trends, with a special focus on infrastructure as a service and its role in the enterprise. Find out the challenges organizations are experiencing, and the technologies and strategies they are using to manage and mitigate those challenges today.
IT Careers: Top 10 US Cities for Tech Jobs
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  1/14/2020
Predictions for Cloud Computing in 2020
James Kobielus, Research Director, Futurum,  1/9/2020
What's Next: AI and Data Trends for 2020 and Beyond
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  12/30/2019
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
The Cloud Gets Ready for the 20's
This IT Trend Report explores how cloud computing is being shaped for the next phase in its maturation. It will help enterprise IT decision makers and business leaders understand some of the key trends reflected emerging cloud concepts and technologies, and in enterprise cloud usage patterns. Get it today!
White Papers
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll