March 2020 uses the ZigBee home automation protocol!

Do your loved ones look at you like a Martian when you talk about home automation? It's not about to change when you explain to them that your smart bulbs and other sensors use the same protocol as the Perseverance rover and its Ingenuity drone helicopter on Mars ...

Ingenuity and Perseverance communicate in ZigBee

You probably didn't know it but, as the law firm reveals Conn kavanaugh, one of his clients helped develop a communication system between Perserverance and Ingenuity on Mars: the ZigBee Alliance. Very discreet on the subject, the flagship of the open IoT has nevertheless worked well with the March 2020 teams on the radio link between the Martian rover and its drone helicopter which relies on the ZigBee protocol.

Using frequencies in the 900 MHz band, the SiFlex-R2 chipsets mounted on both devices allow Ingenuity to send its data to Perseverance. The latter then transmits them to the orbiters of Mars who are in turn responsible for sending them to Earth.

Why use this home automation protocol?

ZigBee SiFlex-R2 chipset integrated in Ingenuity and Perseverance
The ZigBee SiFlex-R2 chipset integrated into Ingenuity and Perseverance - © Lair

The choice to use a home automation protocol may seem surprising, but there are several reasons why the ZigBee was preferred by engineers at the Mars Helicopter mission. On the one hand, SiFlex-R2 chips are very compact. On the other hand, they use the 900 MHz band which makes it possible to consider long range transmissions. Finally, it has the enormous advantage of being very energy efficient.

Indeed, the component displays a consumption of only 1 milliwatt, or nearly 100 times less than Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, this thanks to an optimized management which allows it to switch to standby mode after each data transmission. For example, from two AA batteries, and in the extreme case of an activation every ten seconds, a device implementing the ZigBee will have a autonomy of more than four years, compared to a month with Bluetooth.

On the other hand, note that as in the framework our connected homes, the ZigBee protocol is not designed to transmit high-definition images because it offers a speed of only 40 kbps, but its usefulness is elsewhere. It remains to be seen whether all of this will work as planned, an answer that we will only have in a month's time when the Ingenuity drone performs the first of its five flights planned over Martian soil ...

Fascinated by Alexa since the day I received it in beta test, I gradually became passionate about the subject, before deciding to go further by creating a site with Jean-Christophe. An activity that allows me to quench my thirst for new technologies and share my discoveries about the nicest of communities: Les Alexiens.