DARPA turns aging drones into WiFi hotspots for troops


Rather than simply toss aside aging surveillance drones, the Pentagon has announced plans to use them as high-speed Wi-Fi hot spots for troops in remote regions of the world.

In a release dated April 7, the military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects agency (DARPA) stated it’s looking to mount older fleets of drones with wireless internet capable of transmitting one gigabyte of data per second, roughly the equivalent of modern 4G cellular networks.

According to Ars Technica, the agency will repurpose its fleet of RQ-7 Shadow Drones – originally deployed on surveillance missions in Iraq – so that they can be used to ensure troops in remote areas around the globe have the same access to mission data, intelligence, and information that other units do in more connected regions.

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

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