Extended ad-hoc communications network

Provides position location and other data via a secure wireless network using relatively inexpensive, lightweight gear and electronic devices that require minimal power


A Marine wearing a wrist-mounted GPS makes radio communications during a training exercise. (Sarah Anderson/Marine Corps)

A variety of mobile devices are utilized to provide personnel position location information (PPLI). PPLI systems typically require the use of clumsy computing devices with limited data throughput capability. For example, known methods for providing PPLI generally include one or more individuals using a GPS and periodically transmitting their coordinates by voice through a handheld radio.

This is time-consuming and may be subject to error when the user is forced to manually relay GPS coordinates or position information. This may further introduce substantial error provided to a command center. In certain scenarios, groups or personnel units may move to multiple locations and, for one or more reasons, fail to provide updated information upon arrival at each location. Another method includes the use of a location device integrated within an existing field radio. While the use of radio devices with integrated position functions may be configured to automatically send location information, this method requires that each team member carry their own field radio, which is cost-prohibitive and would require each person to transport multiple pieces of communication gear including backup radio hardware, spare batteries, and peripherals.

Addressing the above, Navy scientists have developed a system that links an operations command center to a radio access point (RAP), which is connected to any number of field devices. Each of these field devices can communicate to the operations command through the RAP or to each other field device directly. Direct communication between the field devices can greatly extend the range of the system in a daisy chain manner. Location data as well as image, text, and voice data, is communicated.

The Android OS enables the handheld device and couples to the RAP to securely exchange data communications with radios and the operations command center forming a secure personal area network (PAN). The secure PAN utilizes a modified Bluetooth network that leverages E0 cryptography to connect the RAP. Through this cryptographic connection, a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Federal Information Processing Standard validated Internet Protocol Security, virtual private network (VPN) tunnel is deployed to provide secure connectivity.

The handheld field devices have the following applications:

  • Device configuration
  • GEO location, GPS & inertial measurement unit
  • Network control & device pairing
  • Messaging and chat
  • SALUTE (Size, Activity, Location, Unit/Uniform, Time, and Equipment) reports, spot reports
  • Bluetooth networks
  • Image and video acquisition
  • File share server
  • VOIP

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