TopBot: Automated Network Topology Detection With a Mobile Robot

by Paul Blaer and Peter K. Allen

This work was supported by NSF grant ANI-00-99184.

Abstract: We have demonstrated that a properly-equipped mobile robot can easily construct a detailed map of the wireless coverage of an urban environment. The Autonomous Vehicle for Exploration and Navigation of Urban Environments (AVENUE) mobile robot was successfully used to generate such maps in both manual and autonomous modes of operation. The resulting database contained a wealth of information for many different positions in the region, with a list of all access points viewable from each location together with a quality measure (the signal-to-noise ratio) of every detected signal. At a later time, the AVENUE system effectively used the data in this map to determine the approximate position of the robot as it traveled through the urban area.

The ATRV-2 Based AVENUE Mobile Robot A map of the locations at which wireless signals were measured in a region of the Columbia campus. The subregions A, B, C, D, E, and F extend in the north-south direction for approximately 220 feet and are each about 80 feet wide.

You can view a video of the AVENUE robot roaming the Columbia University campus. (Note: This video makes use of DivX MPEG-4 encoding.)

The paper is available for download in PDF format and gzipped Postscript format.