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The emerging domain of Machine-to-Machine (M2M) and Internet-of-Things (IoT) is attracting a lot of attention these days. It is a vision of a world in which a vast number of hitherto disconnected devices are made Internet-aware and connected to the Net. It is foreseen that satcoms could play a significant role in this development, as satellites can address things which are very remote or mobile, and outside the reach of terrestrial communications. Satcoms can also address – using its inherent broadcast nature – many things efficiently at the same time.
Responding to this significant new trend and novel challenge, ESA has launched an ARTES Advanced Technology Invitation to Tender with the goal of encouraging rapid and responsive prototyping of low data rate satellite communications concepts that would be suitable for diverse M2M and IoT applications.
With this new funding opportunity, ESA is targeting a sector that does not normally work on satellite communications, namely the vibrant maker communities throughout Europe which focus on, among other things, consumer-oriented terrestrial communications projects. These groups have generated many innovative hardware products and concepts based on small embedded systems (e.g. Raspberry PI, Arduino), state-of-the-art Software Defined Radio (e.g. HackRF, GNU Radio, URSP, LimeSDR), and open source FPGA programming boards. A number of such products or concepts are already used within various ARTES projects and some have even been placed into orbit.
“This is a very innovative community, but one not yet active in the satcoms market,” says ESA's Frank Zeppenfeldt, who was instrumental in launching the new ITT. “We would like to engage with it and help it develop innovative satcoms solutions. Through this tender, we'd like to see a kind of makerspace for satcoms community emerge."
This ITT closes on 5 September 2016.