Autonomous Navigation of a Ground Vehicle to Optimize Communication Link Quality


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Virginia Tech


The wireless technology of today provides combat systems with the potential to communicate mission critical data to every asset involved in the operation. In such a dynamic environment, the network must be able maintain communication by adapting to subsystems moving relative to each other. A theoretical and experimental foundation is developed that allows an autonomous ground vehicle to serve as an adaptive communication node in a larger network. The vehicle may perform other functions, but its primary role is to constantly reposition itself to maintain optimal link quality for network communication. Experimentation with existing wireless network hardware and software led to the development, implementation, and analysis of two main concepts that provided a signal optimization solution. The first attracts the communication ground vehicle to the network subsystems with weaker links using a vector summation of the signal-to-noise ratio and network subsystem position. This concept continuously generates a desired waypoint for repositioning the ground vehicle. The second concept uses a-priori GIS data to evaluate the desired vehicle waypoint determined by the vector sum. The GIS data is used primarily for evaluating the viewshed, or line-of-sight, between two network subsystems using elevation data. However, infrastructure and ground cover data are also considered in navigation planning. Both concepts prove to be powerful tools for effective autonomous repositioning for maximizing the communication link quality.



autonomous vehicle teaming, communication-sensitive navigation, mobile ad-hoc network, multi-robot