DARPA wants to repurpose old drones like the RQ-7 Shadow into wi-fi hotspots.
DARPA wants to repurpose old drones like the RQ-7 Shadow into wi-fi hotspots.

DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) is trying to repurpose old surveillance drones into wi-fi hotspots to give modern warfighters an internet connection in remote areas.

According to Nextgov, the agency is currently working on equipping old RQ-7 Shadow drones — which were previously used by the U.S. Army for Middle East information gathering — with pods which will give soldiers a Gbps (Gigabyte per second) connection to bases, operations and communications centers via a “millimeter-wave backbone network.”

As Nextgov points out, the pod is eight inches wide and weighs roughly 20 pounds. DARPA recently announced it had completed the first phase of the three-phase Mobile Hotspots program.

“We’re pleased with the technical achievements we’ve seen so far in steerable millimeter-wave antennas and millimeter-wave amplifier technology,” said Dick Ridgway, DARPA program manager, said in a statement. “These successes — and the novel networking approaches needed to maintain these high-capacity links — are key to providing forward deployed units with the same high-capacity connectivity we all enjoy over our 4G cellphone networks.”

According to Nextgov, the second phase will begin in March 2015. It will involve integrating phase-one technologies into “Shadow-compatible aerial pods and ground vehicles,” which will result in a demonstration of “at least four Shadow-compatible pods, two ground vehicles and a fixed ground node.”

The third and final phase of the program will involve testing the system on a number of drones and ground vehicles, Nextgov said.

Read more: http://www.nextgov.com/defense/2014/04/repurposing-old-drones-bring-wi-fi-warfighters/82582

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