Inside Unmanned Systems

APR-MAY 2017

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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55 unmanned systems inside April/May 2017 ENGINEERING. PRACTICE. POLICY. An Inmarsat equipped UAV by AnsuR Technologies. Backup Bandwidth Ligado Networks, which serves North and Central America with its SkyTerra 1 Satellite, is working with AeroVironment and ViaSat to develop a connectivity service for unmanned aircraft. The concept is to support beyond-line- of-sight operations in those regions where cell- service or other forms of connection are not available. The receiver would enable switching from cellular to satellite and back as needed. Using a receiver developed by ViaSat, the team conducted tests in August at Utah's Dugway Proving Ground on an AeroVironment Puma UAS. The tests showed a smooth hand- off from ground communications links to sat- ellite links and back again, a technique that enables customers to stick with cheaper com- munications as much as possible. They also tested the ability to convey commands while using the satellite link. Ligado's frequencies are in L band—a range of spectrum desired for its propagation char- acteristics. Though providing satellite com- munications was the original purpose for Ligado's predecessor companies, it has now proposed a terrestrial that is controversial because of its potential to interfere with GPS signals. That network, however, does not use the same frequencies as the satellite service. Pearce believes combining different types of communications capacity will be neces- sary to serve an ultra-connected world. "The next generation of pervasive connectivity is going to need to access every type of tech- nology together, interoperably, in a hetero- geneous capability." Bringing satellite capabilities more fully into the bandwidth tool kit is necessary to realize the potential of connected cars and broader Internet of Things, said Intelsat CEO Stephen Spengler, who spoke alongside Pearce. "To unlock those markets of the future—it's changing that economic equation, it's provid- ing those kind of terminals," Spengler said, "… That's what this really will enable. I think if you just look at the numbers it's huge in terms of the overall growth of data. And we're going to play in it. We're part of that solution."

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