DARPA taps BBN for battlefield communications

BBN Technologies has won a $12.9 million follow-on contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop low-power radio communications for the battlefield, the company announced today.

Under the contract, BBN of Cambridge, Mass., will perform the second and third phases of the Connectionless Networks program. The program's aim is to reduce the energy required for mesh or ad hoc networking and communications.

BBN was able to cut the energy used for delivering information in a tactical, wireless, multihop network by more than 300 times in the first phase of the program.

In the second phase, BBN will develop working prototypes on the technology concepts it presented to DARPA in the first phase. Working field units will be manufactured in the third phase, which is scheduled to begin in June 2006.

The low-duty, radio, multihop networking schemes designed by BBN could lead to smaller batteries with increased life for use in battlefield communications devices, according to the company. These devices range from data-collecting sensors in remote locations to radios that soldiers use to communicate with each other.

More efficient networking and communications protocols will let remote sensors transmit information over longer durations and allow soldiers to carry fewer batteries and replace them less frequently during missions.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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