Cisco develops smart robot nodes to maintain network connectivity while on the move

BOSTON, 28 March 2007.Engineers at networking expert Cisco Systems have developed small smart robots, which act as mobile communications relays, that sense when a wireless network user is moving out of range, and follow the user to maintain connectivity.

By John Keller

BOSTON, 28 March 2007.Engineers at networking expert Cisco Systems have developed small smart robots, which act as mobile communications relays, that sense when a wireless network user is moving out of range, and follow the user to maintain connectivity (related story).

Company engineers built prototype cube-shaped robots that sense when a laptop computer user is about to lose wireless network connectivity and move toward the user to maintain the network link, said Dave Buster, product marketing manager for the Cisco Global Government Solutions Group (GGSG) in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

Buster made his comments Tuesday afternoon at the Military Technologies Conference (MTC) in Boston, which is sponsored by Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine. "Those robots will follow you out to the parking lot," Buster told MTC attendees. "They will maintain a daisy chain to help you maintain network connectivity."

Buster admitted to conference attendees, however, that the robot network nodes are primarily to demonstrate the company's networking-on-the-move technology, which is particularly of interest to military programs like the Army's Future Combat Systems (related story).

"Cisco will probably never market that software, but we might make it available to partners who might want to put it on a UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle]," Buster told the MTC. "That UAV would circle a point to give optimum network coverage to the people below. As they move, that UAV would move to maintain coverage for them."

The MTC show continues today at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston with presentations on software implementation for open architectures, as well as thermal and power management trends for military electronics. Those who would like to attend the conference may register on site. The conference wraps up today at 4:30 p.m.

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