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Clash of the Robots RRS feed

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  • Tests conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology have shown that the communication abilities of search and rescue robots could suffer from crossed and disrupted signals. Military robots are given special frequencies on which to operate, but urban search and rescue robots use the unlicensed industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) band, used by most commercial electronic devices. Features such as mobility and dexterity have received a great deal of attention, while "wireless capability has been almost an afterthought," explains NIST wireless systems expert Kate Remely. "It's certainly not an insurmountable problem, but it needs to start being considered by the manufacturers," she says. The NIST field test of 14 robots showed that signals from other systems caused 10 of the robots to stop functioning completely, and neither the use of ISM frequencies or protocols intended to minimize interference could ensure optimal communication between robot and human operator. Radio interference occurred when the ISM bands became too crowded or one user had a significantly higher power output than the others. Solutions being explored include changes in frequency coordination, transmission protocols, power output, access priority, and implementing relay transformers to increase the range of wireless signals.
    Friday, March 9, 2007 7:55 AM

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