Doodle Labs Provides 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz Broadband Transceivers for AVATAR Tactical Robot

RoboteX partnered with Doodle Labs to provide non-line of sight (NLOS) functionality for the AVATAR, its multi-purpose ground robot.

“It’s the best damned stuff we could find.” – Eric Ivers of RoboteX

RoboteX designed and developed a modular robotic platform called the AVATAR for tactical, security, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD), and hazardous materials (HAZMAT) situations. Since these situations require that the AVATAR be able to navigate buildings remotely, RoboteX needed the AVATAR to perform under non-line of sight (NLOS) conditions:
 
“The AVATAR® enhances the capabilities of SWAT and tactical response teams by allowing them to quickly and safely inspect dangerous situations, there is no longer a need to send personnel in before you’ve had a chance to assess the situation.”

In order to maintain connectivity in non-line of sight conditions, RoboteX approached Doodle Labs for radio transceivers capable of communicating through walls and obstructions.

Business Challenge

RoboteX designed the AVATAR as a next-generation tactical and safety robot from the ground up. They did so to ensure that the AVATAR could become an integral part of SWAT, law enforcement, and other emergency response teams. The AVATAR has a unique modular design that allows it to be customized to meet real-world scenarios encountered daily by first responders. It is also incredibly lightweight and more affordable than other tactical robots. Though originally designed for the military, the AVATAR has come to be seen as a necessary part of tactical operations in the U.S. and internationally.

 
The AVATAR evaluates and assesses dangerous situations to minimize threats to personnel. Therefore, it requires a high throughput wireless link to send back audio, video, and operate its command and control functionality. In addition, the AVATAR has been designed with the ability to navigate in all terrain. Eric Ivers pointed out that while “other people claim it, we can actually do it.” Therefore, RoboteX needed the AVATAR to be outfitted with components that were highly durable and vibration proof.

The most important need was maintaining throughput in complete non-line of sight conditions, in particular with respect to walls and other building infrastructure. In order to do so, RoboteX needed transceivers with high transmit power and interference immunity. Since long-range communication was a necessity, RoboteX was looking for a solution to Fresnel zone interference, caused by the proximity of the robot to the ground.

Solution

After testing many different approaches, RoboteX contacted Doodle Labs with the challenge of finding a wireless link capable of operating in these challenging conditions. In partnership with the Doodle Labs team, it was determined that the 900 MHz (NM-915-2F) and 2.4 GHz (NM-2450-2F) broadband transceivers best met the requirements. Ivers had this to say: “Range to power ratio is really important. We love it.” The transceivers were tested for months under the most strenuous conditions and passed all the tests, performing in harsh operating environments and non-line of sight conditions. 

Results

The two transceivers from Doodle Labs were successfully integrated into the AVATAR. RoboteX was insistent that after extensive research, these transceivers were the best on the market. In addition, RoboteX pointed to the transceivers’ PCIe interface, small form factor, and Linux driver support as uniquely valuable features.

The AVATAR is now a leading safety robot domestically and internationally. In addition to their work with tactical and security communities, members of RoboteX are developing applications for their robotic platform in industry and academia with the company Rover Robotics. 

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