European Space Agency

WICOR Completes Test Phase


An ESA Telecom funded project to design an intelligent user terminal router for wireless communications has completed its testing phase. The project, known as WICOR for Multifunctional Wireless Communications Router, demonstrated exceptional reliability in routing connections between mobile devices. The feasibility study began when two German companies Telematica and OECON saw the need to improve the communication capability for various applications.

Currently, when Satcom is used, the connection must be broken and later re-established when driving through a tunnel (see image at right). Not only Satcom but also GSM, UMTS and WLAN suffer from similiar difficulties. This problem with single standalone communication sources is similar to 'line-of-sight' (LoS) obstructions in satellite navigation applications.

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The widespread use of these communication links has created what is called a 'fragmented communication environment'. Users who need a permanent access to communication links will have to be equipped with a number of communication devices to ensure that at least one of those might be usable in case a communication link is needed.

In areas where two or even all communication links are available the user also needs to know which is the most cost effective, secure and reliable. To this end, WICOR is designed to include the ability to prioritise connection types according to cost, speed of connection and availability.

The tests involved assembling a test kit with a GPS-Receiver, a laptop loaded with the WICOR software package and capable of monitoring the GPS data as well as communication networks and data recording capability, as well as a satcom phone (see image at right).

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The tests were conducted in Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland in areas where connection methods varied considerably. Some areas such as major cites like Munich were amply supplied by UMTS yet buildings often obscured satcom connections. Other areas particularly in the mountainous region along the French-Swiss border were best served by satellite connections.

The image above shows a typical test route. The blue dots on the roadway indicate each time a positioning was made.

Various Search and Rescue (SAR) services have expressed an urgent need for such a communications router. As well, companies and organisations involved in disaster prevention and the monitoring and management of transport with dangerous or high value goods would benefit greatly.

A 3D imaging tool is also included in the software giving such potential users the ability to determine the location of their vehicles and visualising them in a three dimensional easy to view graphic display (see image at right).

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Telematica and OECON are almost ready to bring WICOR into a commercial stage of development.

To read more about WICOR just click on the links provided on the right side of this page.

Event Date

24 June 2004
Published 28 June 2004
Last updated at 28 June 2004 - 00:00