Wireless robotic communications in urban environments : issues for the fire service
Hough, George C.
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Firefighters are tasked with conducting search and rescue operations at incidents ranging from minor smoke conditions to multi-agency disasters. In each instance, a rapid risk assessment must be conducted based on preliminary dispatch information. Small, lightweight "man portable" robots are a natural fit for gaining improved situational awareness, yet few have been employed for this application. The problems encountered in using wireless robots in urban environments are among the primary reasons. This thesis focuses on the wireless link between the robot and the firefighter employing it. The work presented is useful for policy makers in allocating public safety spectrum, firefighters in pre-planning responses, and engineers for designing relevant control systems. While the arguments rest on a technical footing of test data and models, the paper is written primarily for a non-technical audience. A technology acceptance model is developed for employing robots wirelessly. Test data is presented showing the debilitating effects of interference from employing multiple robots concurrently. Models are applied to predict signal loss in tunnels and urban environments, and results indicate an optimal frequency range exists between 500 MHz and 1 GHz. A case is presented to allocate spectrum in this range using a priority access protocol.
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