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Harsh Wireless Conditions? Send In the Drone Hot Spot

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the stay-connected dept.

Wireless Networking 20

coondoggie writes "The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has moved along a project it says would use hot-spot enabled drones to bring wireless communications to even the most distant and harsh environments. The project known as Fixed Wireless at a Distance is designed specifically to overcome the challenge inherent with cell communication in remote areas and this week the agency awarded L-3 $16.4 million to support the next iteration of the system."

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Warflying (2)

14erCleaner (745600) | about 5 months ago | (#46498531)

This brings a whole new meaning to the term "mobile hot spot".

Re:Warflying (1)

ninlilizi (2759613) | about 5 months ago | (#46499437)

Finally drone strike victims will be able to live tweet the experience.

What's the Name? (2)

Mister Transistor (259842) | about 5 months ago | (#46498619)

Will this be called F-WAD?

Re:What's the Name? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46498899)

Yes, and they re-issued the BAA after telling the writers to remove any use of the abbreviation FWAD.

Wonderful (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46498631)

How about a ballon on a string with an AP dangling? Could provide power up the cord power and data to the bound and costs around $1.50...

Re:Wonderful (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 6 months ago | (#46502745)

How about a ballon on a string with an AP dangling? Could provide power up the cord power and data to the bound and costs around $1.50...

You might be able to get string for a balloon for $1.50, but it will cost $25 for a big enough balloon and roughly $40/lb of lift to buy helium to fill it.

Harsh? (1)

no-body (127863) | about 5 months ago | (#46498679)

OmG - how sensitive, have your live-feeding umilical cord ripped apart...

Re:Harsh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46499803)

Maybe you have an easy job, but I and other people work in remote areas with harsh environments. Having communications to the outside world can make or break a mission. It can save both lives and money. This is DARPA, they're trying to support soldiers. I'm sure they'd love to hear some pansy ass Slashdotter calling them senstive, because they can't get the data they need to call in a airstrike or something.

Just because proper comminucations is a luxury for you, doesn't me it is for everyone else.

Denied Areas (1)

docwatson223 (986360) | about 5 months ago | (#46498875)

The only way this could possibly work is point to point LOS between the nodes.

Re:Denied Areas (1)

pla (258480) | about 5 months ago | (#46499293)

The only way this could possibly work is point to point LOS between the nodes.

A flying WAP 800ft up has line of sight to pretty much anything in the area.

That said, while TFA doesn't mention it, the intended use of this likely involves a (ground) base station with a satellite uplink established in a clearing, which then uses WDS or similar to provide access to one or more flying relay nodes.

Interestingly, though, I don't see the advantage of "drone" in this situation. Tethered weather balloons can already do the job admirably, and don't require an active propulsion system (and fuel) to remain aloft. That means you can allocate more of your load to batteries for the router, rather than fuel just to fight gravity.

Re:Denied Areas (1)

CaptainOfSpray (1229754) | about 5 months ago | (#46499535)

Absolutely right about tethered balloons being much more efficient. However, drones have one significant advantage - namely, that when the NSA has got what they need, the drone can be withdrawn to leave the "bad guys" (that's all of us) in the dark.

not a good idea (2)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 5 months ago | (#46499187)

We already have an alternative in place and it's a lot harder to shoot down a satellite in orbit than a drone. If you're about to say satellites beaming down internet are more expensive than drones, the satellites are already up there and the drones aren't so not really.

Re:not a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46502617)

And I suppose that they are real secure with data... yea right... OK..

Just like Vietnam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46499849)

I'm sure the crazy privacy advocates will now claim that drones in a public place are a threat to privacy, lol

Why are we thinking fixed wing here? (3, Insightful)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about 5 months ago | (#46500125)

I'm sure that for short-term applications a fixed-wing drone getting its feed from satellites and flying figure-eights over a ground point is what they have in mind. But consider the potential of a quadcopter carrying an access point. Once you guide the drone up to some high point on a crag and set it down, all of the solar power collected by the device can be applied to running the AP, rather than keeping the drone flying. In all but the flattest areas there will be some high but difficult-to-access place, such as a minaret, with some cranny where a drone AP can roost. And if conditions change, you can always reposition it.

Re:Why are we thinking fixed wing here? (1)

ed1park (100777) | about 6 months ago | (#46505085)

I just recently looked into solar energy, and you don't get as much power as you would need to constantly maintain flight. But a solar powered quadcopter connected to a balloon wouldn't need as much energy. The quadcopter would only kick in to maintain position every once in awhile.

We made a "repeater tank" in 2011 for this (1)

spiritplumber (1944222) | about 5 months ago | (#46500295)

it works pretty well; the device carries a 3g/4g hotspot to drive itself to where it has to go, then turns off the wheels, turns on the wiifi, and sits there (solar panel).
You can see a video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

Apple did this! (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 5 months ago | (#46501411)

I remember seeing an Airport base station flying around. [youtube.com]

(Yes, it's a real ad. No, it's not really flying. Yes, I'm joking.)

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