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Cisco Develops Mobile Robots for Wireless Nets

samzenpus posted more than 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."

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Brilliant! (1, Funny)

bobdotorg (598873) | more than 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 | more than 7 years ago | (#18527369)

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

Umm, (1)

Brian Ribbon (986353) | more than 7 years ago | (#18526637)

When do I get my own robot?

How about some privacy? (3, Insightful)

HateBreeder (656491) | more than 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) | more than 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) | more than 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? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18529095)

there are some services in the UK like http://www.followus.co.uk/ [followus.co.uk] not sure about other countries.

Re:How about some privacy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18529173)

You mean like http://phonetrace.org/ [phonetrace.org] ?

Re:How about some privacy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18534963)

Hehe, don't use that one at work!

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

AlHunt (982887) | more than 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) | more than 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) | more than 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) | more than 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) | more than 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.

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

einnar2000 (985070) | more than 7 years ago | (#18529589)

Teach it to cook and mix drinks, and I'll buy one.

One step forward (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 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] )

Re:One step forward (1)

Warg! The Orcs!! (957405) | more than 7 years ago | (#18527427)

And how exactly would skeins of hoverbots improve the quality of life for humankind?

Intended for the military? (4, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 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) | more than 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 | more than 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) | more than 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) | more than 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) | more than 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? (1)

oKtosiTe (793555) | more than 7 years ago | (#18527017)

You take wireless equipment into your bathroom?

Re:Steps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 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 | more than 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 | more than 7 years ago | (#18526759)

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

Spyware? (1)

Big Nothing (229456) | more than 7 years ago | (#18526763)

Am I the only one who sees "Homeland Security" written all over a lot of inventions lately?

beats using people (2, Interesting)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 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) | more than 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) | more than 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) | more than 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) | more than 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!

Obvious (-1, Redundant)

floki (48060) | more than 7 years ago | (#18526925)

I, for one, welcome our new wireless relaying robotic overlords.

Great! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18526939)

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

R2D2.... (1)

drolli (522659) | more than 7 years ago | (#18527607)

R2D2 they call him....

Dave? (3, Funny)

Grashnak (1003791) | more than 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 | more than 7 years ago | (#18530959)

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

Why use robots? (2, Funny)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 7 years ago | (#18527797)

Just strap a wifi relay to Ceiling Cat.

Re:Why use robots? (1)

427_ci_505 (1009677) | more than 7 years ago | (#18528989)

That will only work on 90% of the internet.

Re:Why use robots? (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 7 years ago | (#18542749)

I think the coverage would be higher than that. You'd only have to be within range of a Ceiling Cat Remote Access Point.

Military Interest? (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 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 | more than 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 | more than 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) | more than 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) | more than 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 | more than 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) | more than 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.

I for one... (1)

l_bratch (865693) | more than 7 years ago | (#18530555)

...welcome our new robot overlords.

His name... (1)

hypnos66 (641678) | more than 7 years ago | (#18536727)

is Dave Buster? You gotta be kidding... Must have had a terrible time in school...

just an idea (1)

Coraon (1080675) | more than 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.
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