As part of the establishment of German Rescue Robotics Center (DRZ), CNI is working on reliable communications solutions for use in disaster scenarios. An exercise for firefighters near the German-Dutch border (Viersen district) in early September acted as a backdrop for field-testing interoperability and performance of systems developed in the research project.
During the exercise, whose topic was the fighting of different kinds of wildfire, the project partners deployed various robotics systems in order to test sensors, range and communication links.
CNI provided a Wi-Fi 6 based research network with a high speed cellular backhaul, connecting robots, ground stations and external systems. Rescue command vehicles from both DRZ and the local fire department were integrated into the network as well, using CNI’s mobile communications lab as the central hub, and allowing coordinators to monitor camera streams recorded by the robot systems in real time.
CNI also deployed its own demonstrator platform, an autonomous ground vehicle (AGV) equipped with an 8K 360° surround camera and the SKATES-system, a multi-network communication solution developed in the research project. The SKATES system transparently aggregates multiple communication links, intelligently scheduling traffic and performing handovers to maximize robustness. Utilizing the Wi-Fi 6 network and a public carrier’s cellular network, the AGV captured a high definition panorama video stream, which could then be interactively viewed by operators using wireless VR headsets.
In the following weeks, the demonstrator platform will be extended with an additional proprietary radio link and a private LTE cell, resulting in a total of four links used in parallel. SKATES modules will also be integrated with the partners’ ground-based and aerial rescue robot systems.
News on project homepage: DRZ - Forschung trifft auf Einsatz