European Space Agency

Integration and Trial of an Ad-hoc Terrestrial Component into Global Satellite Communications Systems

Objectives

The overall objective of the proposed programme of work is to develop an ad-hoc radio network product which is integrated into a satellite system for the purpose of emergency service use, disaster recovery and Government security applications, as well as for commercial application in mineral extraction and oil and gas industries to improve safety, efficiency and to aid the rescue of personnel following incidents and accidents.

This means that the system can provide a resilient network which is independent of terrestrial infrastructure. The aim is to make the system compatible with a wide range of satellite systems, i.e. to be modem agnostic, to maximise future sales potential.

The resulting system will be trialled using Ku-band satellites, but will also be designed to be compatible with future S-band satellites.

A key feature of the programme will be consultation with the user community to ensure that their requirements and needs are captured and, as far as is technically feasible and commercially attractive, incorporated into the first generation system developed under this programme of work.

Challenges

The key issue is to design an affordable adhoc voice and data capability with satellite backhaul in situations where fixed infrastructure is not available.

Benefits

Providing a communications infrastructure that can be used in the first hours and days after a natural or manmade disaster in collapsed buildings, underground and other areas where the existing communication systems do not provide coverage. Integration of several terrestrial ad-hoc networks via satellite to co-ordinate operations in a number of areas, even where users are located in several groupings spread over a large geographical region.

Features

The system will comprise an adhoc radio network operating in the unlicensed 2.4GHz band and will provide interfacing to satellite communications via a custom IP gateway. The highly portable gateway, linked to a ruggedized laptop, will run the applications software and enable monitoring of radio traffic.

Cobham’s Ad-hoc Mesh Radio Over Satellite System (CAMROSS)


click for larger image

A key element of the system is the benefits of the inherent relay properties of the ad-hoc radio system will ensure reliable communication in a local area including areas deep inside buildings and underground where satellite communications cannot normally provide coverage.

The hardware and software developed under this programme will be certified for commercial use and based on the strength of the commercial justification may also be qualified for intrinsically safe or even Chemical Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) environments.

System compatibility will be demonstrated with existing Cobham products which will offer: (a) situational awareness system (based on Battlehawk) which offer tracking of user location to aid operational co-ordination and safety of personnel (based on GPS) and (b) video transmission based on Co-Orthogonal Frequency Domain Modulation (COFDM) to aid command centre co-ordination of operations.

Plan

The following tasks will take place over a timeframe of approximately 27 months and will:

  • Analyse the market, user requirements and competition,
  • Define the user requirements and business proposition,
  • Perform a proof of concept demonstration,
  • Define the system architecture,
  • Define the system specifications and development plan,
  • Define the radio hardware and software,
  • Define the IP gateway hardware and software,
  • Define software applications and video surveillance/ tracking system,
  • Update ad-hoc radio and repeater node hardware,
  • Develop ad-hoc radio and application software,
  • Develop IP gateway prototype hardware and software,
  • Integrate and test prototype system,
  • Perform basic functionality over satellite tests.

When the work above has been completed the following tasks will take place over a period of 9 months and will:

  • Review and assess designs ready for productionisation,
  • Make custom IP gateway unit into a production build standard,
  • Certify the ad-hoc radio system for specific applications,
  • Perform system user trial in representative scenarios.

Current status

  • WP2000 (Business Development & Commercial Feasibility Aspects) is complete and the Business Plan deliverable document published. 
  • WP3100 (Proof of Concept) – Ad-hoc radios have been tested with a voice interface to a SkyWAN IDU modem using 3rd party VoIP adapter.
  • WP4000 (System Definition): The Development Plan has been published 
  • WP5000 (Subsystem Definition) - The Product Marketing Specifications, Technical Specifications and Detailed Design Document deliverables have been published and prototype hardware and software built and tested 
  • WP7000 (System Integration & Test) – The prototype system has been integrated and successfully tested. 
  • WP8000 (Demonstration phase) – End-end voice and data communications, including real-time GPS tracking, has been successfully demonstrated over a geostationary satellite link. 
  • WP9000 (Productionisation) - Activities aimed at productionising the hardware and software are close to completion. Final system integration & test activities have begun. 

Status date

Monday, March 3, 2014 - 08:00