COTS Ethernet Switching Solutions Now Essential in Space-Constrained UGVs

By Caroline Rees / 04 Sep 2013
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iRobot 510 PackBot

iRobot PackBot UGV

Robots have long been an essential component of industrial production and domestic law enforcement. Updated and multifunctional Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) are now delivering unprecedented support for military and other law enforcement activities. Some examples of these UGVs include:

  • US Multifunctional Utility/Logistics and Equipment (MULE) – providing combat support in conflict scenarios. These are designed to reduce dependence on external supply, reduce soldier-carried loads and evacuate casualties. The Ground Unmanned Support Surrogate (GUSS) is another such example.
  • Armed Robotic Vehicles (ARV) – capable of improvised explosive device (IED) and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD), reconnaissance, communications, CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosive)/hazmat, security, heavy lift, defense and rescue missions. The iRobot PackBot and Qinetiq TALON are such examples.

Ethernet-based components are replacing custom-built computers, motion controllers used to control robotic arms, motion sensors, drive-by-wire, emergency stop and other elements in most of these unmanned devices. Increasingly, video streaming monitoring technologies becoming a driving force behind Ethernet because of its ability to handle large amount of traffic being sent back to central command. At the same time, industrial automation continues to travel the curve in increasing sophistication and applications.

In all cases, Ethernet is quickly becoming the standard for connectivity for most military and other rugged applications due to proven interoperability, reliability, and speed. Ethernet has proven itself as the communications standard of choice for a number of reasons:

  • Ethernet and IP technologies are ubiquitous
  • Ethernet devices are inherently interoperable, encouraging modularity
  • Rugged commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components are readily available
  • Ethernet continues to receive large technology investments
  • Ethernet operates over world-spanning distances using established infrastructures
  • In almost all instances, UGVs and other robots must be able to operate in harsh environments, connect multiple communications and motion control devices and, most importantly, operate flawlessly.

What’s needed to connect these devices that use Ethernet as a communications platform is a rugged, small, light, power-efficient military-grade Ethernet switch that supports sophisticated applications. Additionally, in smaller and space-constrained vehicles, every square inch of space, every ounce of weight, and every watt of power becomes critical. Techaya is a prime developer, innovator and manufacturer of military-grade, rugged and tailor-made IP-based communications solutions. Techaya offers a series of Ethernet switches that are roughly the size of a credit card, specifically for UGV, UAV soldier-carry and other mobile applications where SWaP requirements are key. They include:

  • MILTECH 918 – 8-port managed Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000) switch
  • MILTECH 308 – 8-port unmanaged Fast Ethernet (10/100Mbps) switch
  • MILTECH 306 – 7+1-port USB hub
  • MILTECH 406 -communications grid solution with Ethernet, USB, serial and SMBus communications

In June of 2013, Techaya appointed WLANmall as the exclusive distributor of its products throughout the United States.

Posted by Caroline Rees Caroline co-founded Unmanned Systems Technology and has been at the forefront of the business ever since. With a Masters Degree in marketing Caroline has her finger on the pulse of all things unmanned and is committed to showcasing the very latest in unmanned technical innovation. Connect & Contact