In high-latency, low-bandwidth networks such as those employed when communicating with an extraterrestrial object via wireless communication over hundreds or thousands of miles, it may be difficult or expensive to communicate large quantities of information in a reliable manner. Each data stream that is transmitted may require error correcting, redundancy, or other bandwidth-heavy techniques to ensure the information received matches the information transmitted. This may often lead to a total reduction of communicated information, with little regard for the importance of the underlying data.

A system for communicating over highlatency, low-bandwidth networks includes a communications processor configured to receive a collection of data from a local system, and a transceiver in communication with the communications processor. The transceiver is configured to transmit and receive data over a network according to a plurality of communication parameters. The communications processor is configured to divide the collection of data into data streams, assign a priority level to each of the respective data streams where the priority level reflects the criticality of the respective data stream, and modify a communication parameter of at least one of the data streams according to the priority of at least one data stream. The communication parameters may include at least one communication protocol, a transmission priority, a transmission method, a transmission format, a transmission frequency, an update frequency, a level of redundancy, and a level of error checking.

The communications processor may further include a processing module configured to receive a data stream and perform a bandwidth-conserving technique to minimize the amount of redundant information within the transmitted data stream. Such a bandwidth-conserving technique may include parsing a data stream into objects, comparing an object to a previous version of the object to detect a change in the object, and transmitting the object only if the change from the previously recorded version of the object exceeds a threshold.

The local system may be a robotic system that includes a dexterous robot and a controller. The dexterous robot may likewise include 42 degrees of freedom. In this manner, the data streams may include a visual data stream, an operational status data stream, and a command and control data stream.

This work was done by Philip A. Strawser of Johnson Space Center and Adam Sanders of General Motors. For further information, contact the JSC Technology Transfer Office at (281) 483-3809. MSC-25327-1


NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the December, 2015 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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