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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Ad-hoc network for futuristic warfare scenario warming up

By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: For over the last one decade, Bangalore has been the hub of R&D in military communication with the scientists from the Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR) leading the march on this front. Focus has been on the R&D of wireless ad-hoc networks, which are wireless, decentralized and infrastructure less (unlike cellular networks). Ad-hoc network consists of nodes which are capable of executing computations and data exchanges amongst their peers. Hence, the nodes in an ad-hoc network function very much like a router in a conventional computer network.
Two important ad-hoc networks of use in military scenario are Mobile Ad-Hoc Networks (MANETs) and Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN). The former is characterized by the high mobility of nodes providing data or voice communication amongst nodes, while the latter is a relatively static network with its nodes equipped with sensors whose choice depend on the application.
“MANETs serve to provide voice and data communication amongst roaming entities such as dismounted platoon of soldiers, inter-battlefield tank communications etc. Their role is not limited to application on ground as nodes of a MANET can be located on land, on sea or in the air. Providing such a voice and data communication capability would provide sharing of situational awareness amongst battlefield entities like dismounted soldiers, battlefield tanks and military aircraft,” say sources.
MANET is formed by mobile communicating nodes, interconnected by wireless communication links. It is self-configuring upon changes in topology occurring due to the random movement of communicating nodes. The main features of MANET are: a) routes between nodes may contain multiple hops; b) rapidly deployable due to self-configuring capability; c) dynamic changes in network topology. Among the challenges are: limited wireless transmission range, packet losses due to transmission errors and, operational requirements under energy constraints. Ongoing work in the above area focuses on the development of communication protocols with power awareness.
WSNs serve to provide surveillance capabilities through appropriate sensors located in nodes that are geographically distributed. “This network is characterized by low power, unattended nodes that interact in a cooperative manner to perform their assigned tasks. Introduction of inexpensive, micro-sized devices which serve to act as a node in a WSN has revolutionized the applications of WSN ranging from simple civilian to complex battlefield applications. An important application of WSN is in providing perimeter security for the detection of intrusion by humans and vehicles into a geographical area monitored by a WSN,” say sources.
Scientists say that MANETs and WSNs throw several challenges to those involved in their design. MANETs require complex routing strategy to provide highly reliable communication amongst the nodes. In the case of WSNs the challenge lies in routing under severely constrained energy availability. The R&D efforts of the CAIR are directed towards realization of feasible, reliable, secure MANETs and WSNs.
Copyright@The New Indian Express
Part 14, tomorrow: Futuristic Soldier

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