9 June 2014 Control of a small robot using a hybrid optical modulating retro-reflector/RF link
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Tele-operated robots used for Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) are ordinarily controlled using a radio frequency (RF) link. Use of RF links on the battlefield presents several challenges including spectrum allocation and jamming effects (both by the enemy and friendly forces). Several solutions have been attempted including electrical or fiber optic umbilicals and spread spectrum radios with varying degrees of success. Modulating Retro-reflector Free Space Optical (MRR-FSO) communications links avoid these effects entirely but are limited to line of sight operation. We have developed a system consisting of an MRR-FSO link with a tracking optical terminal, a conventional RF link and a deployable pod to provide a relay node bridging the FSO link to the operator and the RF link to the robot. The MRRFSO link provides the capability to operate the robot in the presence of jamming while the RF link allows short range non line of sight operation. The operator uses the MRR-FSO link to drive the robot to a position downrange outside the influence of the jammer or other interference. Once the robot is positioned downrange near the area of operation the pod is deployed. This allows the robot to maneuver freely including venturing beyond line of sight using the short range RF link to maintain communications between the vehicle and pod while the FSO link maintains connectivity between the pod and the operator.
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James L. Murphy, James L. Murphy, Mike S. Ferraro, Mike S. Ferraro, William S. Rabinovich, William S. Rabinovich, Peter G. Goetz, Peter G. Goetz, Michele R. Suite, Michele R. Suite, Stanley H. Uecke, Stanley H. Uecke, "Control of a small robot using a hybrid optical modulating retro-reflector/RF link", Proc. SPIE 9080, Laser Radar Technology and Applications XIX; and Atmospheric Propagation XI, 90801F (9 June 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2052942; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2052942

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