According to Richardson, Zigbee is the perfect cordless protocol to transfer telemetry data in between NASA’s Perseverance rover and the semi-autonomous flying drone. It turns out that what makes Zigbee fantastic for wise houses also makes it highly suitable for objectives to the Red Planet. Zigbee likewise has plenty of range. In the house, the Zigbee Alliance claims its signal can reach about 150 feet.
Today I discovered that the Ingenuity drone copter twirling about on Mars interacts with the Perseverance rover using 900MHz Zigbee radios. Not Wi-Fi, GSM, or something unique like fission-powered lasers or space algae, but the very same consumer tech you use to turn on a Philips Hue lightbulb.
I encountered the news via an incredulous tweet from Ben Bromley who found it on the Linux Unplugged podcast with visitor Tobin Richardson, CEO of the Zigbee Alliance, just recently rebranded the Connectivity Standards Alliance.
According to Richardson, Zigbee is the ideal cordless protocol to transfer telemetry data between NASA’s Perseverance rover and the semi-autonomous flying drone. “Looking at actually extreme environments, like Mars, it’s excellent to have an extremely lightweight purpose-built requirement,” said Richardson, “where it’s vital to get the basic information across and makes it possible for prolonged battery use.”
It turns out that what makes Zigbee great for smart homes also makes it extremely suitable for objectives to the Red Planet. The Zigbee cordless protocol exemplified “low energy” long prior to Bluetooth embraced the LE specification. That makes it ideal for the unimportant data requirements of small, battery-powered smart home gadgets like movement and temperature level sensing units, and likewise for light-weight drones. The protocol is likewise very robust, designed to run in a mesh of nodes that can get rid of package delivery failures without disrupting nearby signals. That’s the sort of dependability you likewise desire when running on a various planet.
Zigbee likewise has a lot of variety. In the house, the Zigbee Alliance declares its signal can reach about 150 feet. That can be stretched much further with line-of-sight, and most likely farther still in the exceptionally thin environment of Mars, which lacks the dense radio interference seen here on Earth. According to NASA, the four-pound Ingenuity helicopter is capable of communicating with the Mars Helicopter Base Station on the Perseverance drone from as far as “nine football fields away” or about 2,700 feet. If you want that sort of range for your own smart house items, well, begin packing your bags for Mars.
When reached for comment, the Consortium For Hey Don’t Forget About Z-Wave said it would happily setup on any old space rock. “We’re great too,” said a spokesperson plainly surprised by the attention. “No, actually.”