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Army developing PackBot algorithm

Nov. 9, 2012 at 11:39 AM

ARLINGTON, Va., Nov. 9 (UPI) -- An algorithm for easier control of networked U.S. Army PackBots and other robots using radio communications has been developed by Army researchers.

Researchers from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory recently demonstrated that with the algorithm they could map the region of good connectivity to a radio base station using received signal strength and are working on "fundamental techniques that employ autonomous agents to maintain connectivity."

In an open environment, communication with an autonomous robot through radio communications is straight forward. But when the robot is indoors, structures and other factors can produce interference with radio signals.

The Army said the research team is working to increase the effectiveness of a networked team of robots in an unknown environment.

"If robots can be programmed to map where there is the potential to communicate inside a building, then soldiers and other assets can know where in the building they will be able to communicate with a radio base station," said Jeffrey Twigg, a contract employee with Army Research Laboratory's Computational and Information Sciences Directorate.

"We can find and explore areas that have high RSS and then map these areas as having the strongest connectivity to the radio base station. This brings us a step closer to operating autonomous systems in complex and unstructured situations like those Soldiers encounter on the battlefield."

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