×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Cisco Develops Mobile Robots for Wireless Nets

samzenpus posted about 7 years ago | from the can-you-follow-me-now dept.

Robotics 51

coondoggie writes "Cisco has developed a set of small smart robots, which can act as wireless communications relays, that sense when a mobile user is moving out of service range, and can follow the user to maintain connectivity. According to Dave Buster, product marketing manager for the Cisco Global Government Solutions Group, the robots can follow a user almost anywhere to maintain connectivity. Published reports said the robots were part of Cisco's "Information on the move" initiative — a wide ranging plan to secure all things wireless. Whether or not the systems has an enterprise application, it is of interest to the military and initiatives such as the Army's Future Combat Systems which uses a variety of advanced systems to achieve battleground superiority."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

51 comments

Brilliant! (1, Funny)

bobdotorg (598873) | about 7 years ago | (#18526635)

So now when I stalk my ex, I need only disguise myself as a mobile coverage extender robot.

Re:Brilliant! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18527369)

EX? You mean that cute girl in Gamestop that kind of smiled at you once?

How about some privacy? (3, Insightful)

HateBreeder (656491) | about 7 years ago | (#18526655)

I don't like the idea of cellular companies tracking my movement.

Re:How about some privacy? (3, Informative)

whathappenedtomonday (581634) | about 7 years ago | (#18526677)

I don't like the idea of cellular companies tracking my movement.

In this case, you might want to avoid cell phones altogether, because a cell phone can be located using triangulation [al911.org].

Re:How about some privacy? (1)

oh_the_humanity (883420) | about 7 years ago | (#18528365)

Arent there services online that do this already? I could of sworn you could locate a cell phone on the internet , but i cant find anything about it.

Re:How about some privacy? (2, Informative)

AlHunt (982887) | about 7 years ago | (#18526689)

>I don't like the idea of cellular companies tracking ...

It's hard for them not to - turn your phone on, it hits the closest tower and they know where you are. Move around, you jump from tower to tower and they still know where you are.

Re:How about some privacy? (1)

Brian Ribbon (986353) | about 7 years ago | (#18526929)

Your movement is being tracked on the internet, you're probably being monitored when you're shopping in a store, your movement is being tracked if you have a GPS system in your car and as another poster mentioned, the cellular companies can track you anyway.

In short, Big Brother is already watching you.... and everyone.

Ok, here's the new sequence. (1, Funny)

AltGrendel (175092) | about 7 years ago | (#18526663)

1)Develop mobile robotic access point.

2)Combine with a Roomba [irobot.com].

3)Profit!!!

Get the darn thing to do some usefull work while you surf the web.

Re:Ok, here's the new sequence. (2, Funny)

daeg (828071) | about 7 years ago | (#18526695)

A robot that cleans and delivers porn? Since when are we trying to replace the other sex with a robot?

Re:Ok, here's the new sequence. (5, Funny)

richie2000 (159732) | about 7 years ago | (#18526721)

A robot that cleans and delivers porn? Since when are we trying to replace the other sex with a robot?
You must be new here.

One step forward (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18526691)

This is a neat step forward, but really only experimentally viable.

The real advacement will be when they can implement their mesh technology with a swam of airborne drones, which automatically place themselves for optimal coverage of a specified area based on throughput and interference avoidance.

I'd give it 10 year, TOPS.

(Cisco's current technologies already support this on a rudimentary level. If you don't know much about wireless mesh networking, here's a wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_mesh_network [wikipedia.org] and Cisco: http://cisco.com/en/US/netsol/ns703/netbr0900aecd8 0364a60.html [cisco.com])

Intended for the military? (4, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 7 years ago | (#18526697)

it is of interest to the military and initiatives such as the Army's Future Combat Systems which uses a variety of advanced systems to achieve battleground superiority. A wireless robot such as this could play a part in the communications of those systems, experts say.

Hard to imagine the military going for a cheap hack like Wifi when they have the resources for a proper satellite comms system. And this roving relay thing just looks like a cheap toy to me. Maybe OK for shopping centres but not the sort of thing you want to waste your time digging out of sand dunes in Iraq.

Take out the wifi bit and you are left with an autonomous rover/UAV which is interesting but not really ciscos job. Looks like a bad fit to me.

Re:Intended for the military? (1)

gingerTabs (532664) | about 7 years ago | (#18526777)

Satcoms is high latency and expensive. If you can link everyone to the local mesh with their own coveragebot then it's a big improvement for local comms

Re:Intended for the military? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18526961)

I think you must be unfamiliar with current WiFi (802.11) technologies.

1) The types of modern encryption used are quite strong
2) There are robust OTP/token authentication/encryption strategies for WiFi currently on the market
3) There are robust WiFi mesh technologies already out there

I agree that a land-based solution is fairly useless. Once this could be deployed as an airborne mesh, this could conceivably replace satellite communications (although I suspect a different wireless specification would be developed by the military, since 802.11 WiFi isn't really up to the task of meeting 100% of their needs, nor was it designed to do so)

Re:Intended for the military? (1)

foniksonik (573572) | about 7 years ago | (#18528287)

Satellite has obvious problems... relatively long delays and saturated bandwidth. If these things are cheap to produce then every company can have a couple UAVs with them to deploy when doing recon which will allow them to stay in touch with their camp and get that Satellite info or comms from a place that can put up a dish.

Besides... I hear Satellites suck for playing the latest Rainbow Six... horrible ping rates, get you killed every time.

Even for Mil use, sat-comm is scarce and rare (1)

HighOrbit (631451) | about 7 years ago | (#18528613)

Satellite bandwidth is scarce. Only really high priority users or missions are going to get an allocated satellite freq. More common are local-unit radio networks. Think of a tank squadron (battalion). They have separate troops (companies) maneuvering over an area of several kilometers. The adjacent unit or the Brigade command post is another several klicks distant on top of that. Most of the tanks' radios are of limited range; so a dynamically moving repeater (perhaps on an airborne drone) would be very valuable to allow a tank to communicate back to the Bde CP.

Steps? (1)

AmIAnAi (975049) | about 7 years ago | (#18526751)

"the robots can follow a user almost anywhere to maintain connectivity" But can they follow you up a step? More important, will they stop if you go down a flight of steps. ... I don't even want to think about being followed into the bathroom to maintain my wireless access.

Re:Steps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18527463)

Somehow, I don't think going from the adjacent room to your bathroom will chop your connectivity. Maybe your walls are made of lead though. :X

Re:Steps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18529557)

This thing doesn't happen to look like a Dalek does it? They have solved that "steps" thing you know. I'm concerned.

Welcome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18526759)

I, for one, welcome our mobile coverage extender robot overlords.

beats using people (2, Interesting)

192939495969798999 (58312) | about 7 years ago | (#18526795)

My grandfather was in WWII, and he had to run phone lines/communications out onto the battlefield and back... using a robot is way less life-threatening!

Re:beats using people (1)

DavidV (167283) | about 7 years ago | (#18527501)

'he had to run phone lines/communications out onto the battlefield and back'

He ran a seperate cable each direction? That's what I call failsafe, which is probably what you need in that situation, just take different paths so you don't lose both simultaneously.

Re:beats using people (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | about 7 years ago | (#18529383)

IIRC, he said he ran out there for the comm's, and then ran back as in "away from the line of fire"!

Re:beats using people (2, Interesting)

aproposofwhat (1019098) | about 7 years ago | (#18533099)

Kudos to your grandad - the guys who ran the comms wires were second only to senior officers on the sniper's priority list.

Not surprised he ran - you wouldn't get me anywhere near a job like that.

Also... (0, Troll)

faloi (738831) | about 7 years ago | (#18526861)

There's a free Power Card in it for everybody that buys from Dave Buster [daveandbusters.com], so even if your WiFi goes out you can have fun!

Great! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18526939)

All I need now is a creepy robot following me and my laptop to the bathroom.

Dave? (3, Funny)

Grashnak (1003791) | about 7 years ago | (#18527653)

Where are you going Dave? Dave? You're moving out of range Dave. I'm following you Dave. Dave, I'm concerned that you continue to move out of range. Here, let me help you stop moving by BREAKING YOUR FUCKING LEGS. There, now you're in range again Dave. Good Dave.

Re:Dave? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18530959)

If only I had seen this before running out of mod points. This needs to be +5 Funny!

Military Interest? (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 7 years ago | (#18528159)

...it is of interest to the military and initiatives such as the Army's Future Combat Systems which uses a variety of advanced systems to achieve battleground superiority...

I fully realize that communication up the line, is just as important as coming home. But I would think that a Bad-Guy/Gal in a spider hole with an RPG would be more intriguing.

"A man with a Bow an Arrow, can hold up an entire Tank Column. If he is at the right time, and right place." - Jerry Pournelle

Re: Military Interest? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18529445)

I fully realize that communication up the line, is just as important as coming home. But I would think that a Bad-Guy/Gal in a spider hole with an RPG would be more intriguing.
I guess that would depend on if they were playing a female nightelf or not.

Capture The Robot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18528263)

Sounds like great fun for hacking contests. You can capture the robots using some wireless technology or old skewl grab and run ;-)

Military Use Only (1)

Zeca (1081231) | about 7 years ago | (#18528389)

I doubt any company or agency would invest in something like this to follow people around. Major citys already have full coverage and its easy to track almost anyone. But as a military option this is perfect as you can have a chain of UAV one connecting with the next and maintaining at all times communication on the field. Instead of a giant satelite phone - smaller, lighter options can be used on the field. Alot of options become available with tech like this.

Prevent "All circuits are busy" from Cell company (1)

HighOrbit (631451) | about 7 years ago | (#18528701)

How about a cell company having a drone circle a major metro area during major sporting events or along a highway during a hurricane evacuation. As the mob of people move to or from the center or along a highway, the drone could calculate where it was needed most in order to supplement the local tower infrastructure. That way, it could help the local network from being saturated and collapsing.

No, seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18529189)

The capability to sense the network connectivity is the smallest challenge of little robots that follow you everywhere you go. The computation power and algorithm complexity of robots that move on their own requires problably too much hardware to fit it in a small cube (whatever the reason is that they chose a cube to move around), not to mention that the algorithms that dictate the movement of independent UGV and UAV is still under heavy research in a very large variety of aspects. So I don't know what the article or the related links are really talking about (couldn't really find any technical detail or photo) but I really much doubt that CISCO actually engineer "small, mobile robots".
Maybe is that I got it wrong and you actually have to pull the robot with a cord...

Story may be bogus. Looks like blog spam. (1)

Animats (122034) | about 7 years ago | (#18529763)

This is another traffic-building blog spam. It's from another blog. [pennnet.com] None of these "articles" have a link to anything that looks like a real source, or a picture. No Cisco press release mentions this. But all these blogs have plenty of ads.

I think this is a garbled description of one of the academic "swarming robot" projects, many of which have WiFi gear on board. Those have been around for a while, and there was an article about them in IEEE Trans. on Automation and Robotics this month. It's not a Cisco product, and it's probably not even a Cisco research effort.

just an idea (1)

Coraon (1080675) | about 7 years ago | (#18539303)

if they put this in a small blimp that followed me around I think for non covert ops it might work out better.
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...