Defense contractor QinetiQ will rely on networking technologies from Persistent Systems as part of a contract to help the Army build a small robot that will help soldiers on the battlefield.

The Army’s Common Robotic System - Individual program aims to build a small robot that soldiers can fit in a backpack and assist in reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition.

But for these robots to perform these duties effectively, they will need to have consistent communication with soldiers and other robots. In a June 12 press release, Persistent Systems announced that it will supply networking technology to QinetiQ as a subcontractor. QinetiQ has an indefinite delivery indefinite quantity contract worth up to $164 million on the Army program.

Persistent’s networking technology is what is known as a mobile ad-hoc network, or MANET, said Leslie Hulser, director of programs at Persistent. The ad-hoc nature of the network means that each device is both a transmitter and a receiver, removing the need for fixed communications infrastructure, she said. MANET technology allows a soldier to communicate with ground and aerial robots as well as other soldiers in the field, Hulser said.

Persistent will roll out the fifth generation of its Wave Relay MANET technology for the project, which includes an on-board Android operating system, a change from single input single output (SISO) to multiple input multiple output (MIMO), the introduction of a new form factor, full duplex audio, an on-board video encoder and decoder and a reduction in size and weight.

The change from SISO to MIMO increases bandwidth and range of operation and increases the probability of sending a message successfully, Hulser said.

The Army expects to field the program in fiscal 2020.

Cal Pringle is a general assignment editorial fellow supporting Defense News, C4ISRNET and Fifth Domain. He is attending the University of Richmond.

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