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Marines connected by P2P radio

Marines connected by P2P radio

It’s called WAND, Wireless Adaptive Network Development, and it promises to patch up poor coverage of communications on the battlefield . The DARPA, the arm of the US army that deals with research and development, hopes to be able to achieve an ambitious goal within 12 months: to equip each soldier with his personal radio, in order to communicate his position in real time and receive more orders. precise.

Many small radios with a negligible cost of 500 dollars each (350 euros): a small miracle, considering that the current equipment supplied range from prices that start at just over 10 thousand euros and easily reach 55 thousand, without counting the cost of the stations radio bases necessary to put them in communication with each other. A possible miracle thanks to the adoption of commercial components instead of the more expensive custom-designed materials used to date: even the military are aiming at economy of scale, to improve the equipment of their comrades.

Unlike current systems, WAND will be based on a kind of P2P network whose nodes will be the two-way radios located on the ground: each soldier will be part of a network that will cover the entire battlefield, a network on which not only voice commands can travel, but also tactical information on the troops deployed.

But the WAND news does not end here. Today’s radios are designed to operate on a single frequency band, assigned once and for all: there is, for example, the frequency for taxis, that of the police and, of course, that of the armed forces. Very often, however, these frequencies remain unused : difficult to find a taxi in the Iraqi desert, as it is unlikely to meet a tank in Manhattan. So why not optimize its use?

By the beginning of 2008, the first examples of multiband radios are already expected: they will be able to “jump” from one frequency to another, moving when they encounter interference and while ensuring the passage of information . Obviously, this is not enough for DARPA, and all the necessary measures are also being studied to improve the security of data while it transits astride the radio waves.

The biggest problem, however, will be that of coordinate thousands of transmitters in operation , at the same time, on the same ground: a not insignificant issue, to ensure efficiency and regularity of the service. A mechanism which, given the absence of central stations, must be managed by each single terminal, able to select the best frequency on which to operate and the nodes to refer to, practically in real time.

The first phase of testing will begin next January: the first manufacturer ready to answer the call will be Tyco, which has completed a device capable of handling four different frequencies. If by September 2008 the results are considered promising we will move on to the second phase of the project, Wireless Network after Next Program (WNaN).

At the moment, however, precise information is lacking on a possible deadline by which the new radios will enter the standard equipment of soldiers. The latter, for the moment it seems make do with commercial two-way radios smaller and smaller and with ever greater range, commonly on sale in all electronics maxistores.

Luca Annunziata