Status date: 08 August 2016
Overview of the opportunity and the commercial strategy
The opportunity exists for the development and subsequent implementation of a reliable, L-Band satellite communications antenna within the wing of a Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) for use in missions in which the RPA operates Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) in a remote area with little, or no, reliable telecommunications infrastructure.
Currently available satellite communications antennas, suitable for operating on mobile platforms, for use with the Inmarsat SwiftBroadband service, come in two varieties:
• a mechanically steered helical antenna is typically found in a satcom terminal that is mounted on a moving ground vehicle. The drawback of this antenna is the lack of reliability of the mechanically steered antenna for regular use in an RPA operating BLOS.
• A blade (shark fin) type omnidirectional antenna, is as in the Cobham SB-200 terminal shown in the above photograph. We have tested this satcoms terminal on our Inview RPA. The drawback of this satcoms terminal is (1) the price and (2) the omnidirectional antenna spraying the other antennas on the RPA with electromagnetic signals, creating interference.
The commercial opportunities for the use of a reliable RPA in civilian BLOS applications are:
• oil, gas and mineral exploration activities, requiring geophysical surveys in remote locations.
• Oil pipeline and related infrastructure monitoring.
• Land and maritime border patrol.
• Small cargo transportation from hub to hub.
• Radio relay node to interface satcoms capability with inexpensive radio transceivers (such as the PMR 446 transceiver) used by ground personnel.
The commercial strategy to exploit this work is as follows:
• BML will provide the L-Band ESTARR antenna as an OEM unit for other RPA developers to incorporate within their RPA.
• BML will provide a vertically integrated (data gathering to and including data analytics), managed service, in which the Inview RPA fitted with a reliable ESTARR antenna is used in civilian BLOS applications.
• BML will use the 5.8 GHz ESTARR antenna to relay data between the RPA and the Remote Pilot Station when the RPA is within Radio Line of Sight.
• BML will use the 5.8 GHz ESTARR electronically steerable antenna technology as a basis for the future development of a satcom antenna operating from 5.030 GHz to 5.091 GHz.