With the end of 2022 another project group themed RESCUE (Short for Robotic Exploration and Small Cell in Unidentified Environments) presented the results to the members of CNI. The project group is part of the master course Electrical Engineering and Information Technology and challenges a group of students to solve a scientific task collaboratively. Within RESCUE, a group of ten students developed and built a modular sensor box as well as 5G small cell compatible with robotic platforms.
Motivated by the unidentified environments rescue forces are confronted in various day-to-day work situations, the aim of this project group was to provide explorative assistance to gain information about the environment via rescue robotics to minimize dangers for human forces.
For this, two focal points needed to be addressed, the first one being a robust sensor data platform, usable on a modular basis for different robotic platforms. Here, a modular housing as well as custom PCB layout was designed to fit on the Spot platform. This sensing unit can then be deployed, for example, in a garage fire scenario, where commercial 5G does not penetrate and ISM bands might be too crowded. Therefore, another robotic platform spanning a private 5G small cell can be used to connect the control center with the explorer unit, sending valuable data towards the operator.
This small cell was constructed to provide a battery-operated 5G Standalone (SA) network based on Commercial-of-the-Shelf hardware and open source Software. The usage of campus network frequencies (3.7-3.8 GHz) ensures flexible and robust deployments in rescue scenarios. For this, the project group ported open-source software on small form factor PCs and enhanced it with stabilizing mechanisms as well as monitoring and control backend with UI for intuitive operation. The overall deployment was designed within a containerized environment enabling fast deployment.