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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49 unmanned systems inside April/May 2017 ENGINEERING. PRACTICE. POLICY. A breakthrough metamaterials antenna and satellite constellations designed to connect with smaller systems are making satellite-powered communications an alternative for drones and connected cars. by Dee Ann Divis EVOLUTION: A s in other industries, the frequency experts in the unmanned sector are scouring the spectrum gameboard for hidden slivers of bandwidth to support the flood of connected vehicles, drones, and other devices expected to fill the future. With prices for wireless frequencies running into the billions of dollars the debate over how to solve spectrum shortages has been intense and, at times, testy. There is bandwidth avail- able, however, though perhaps not entirely where expected. "Satellite literally has 1,000 times more spectrum available to it, and it's available on a global basis, naturally, because it's in space," Nathan Myhrvold told Geekwire in 2015. Myhrvold was the chief strategist and tech- nology officer for Microsoft Corp. before he co-founded the innovation investment firm Intellectual Ventures, of which he is now CEO. Sensing opportunity, the satellite compa- nies have been revamping their underlying technology to support unmanned systems. Inmarsat has a deal in place to support con- nected vehicles from space. Intelsat is in- vesting in leading-edge technologies and a broader array of satellites to support smaller drones. Ligado Networks is test driving a satellite-based command and control (C2) re- ceiver for beyond-line-of-sight operations and other efforts, like the Swiss firm ELSE, con- tinue to emerge. Breakthrough One of the biggest developments is a 70 cm, f lat antenna called the mTenna u7 that can be incorporated into the roof of a vehicle to sup- port connected and driverless technology. Satellite Firms Adapt to Serve Drones, Connected Cars Software bugs cost the car industry $7 billion dollars globally in 2016 and triggered 17 percent of product recalls. BY THE NUMBERS The Inmarsat control room (left). Source: Rupert Pearce, CEO, Inmarsat Global, Ltd. 17 % recalls $ 7 billion global costs SOFTWARE BUGS 2016 " YOU KNOW YOUR AVERAGE CAR COMING OFF THE PRODUCTION LINE TODAY HAS OVER SIX MILLION LINES OF CODE—AND SOFTWARE BUGS AND THE NEED FOR UPDATES." Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat Global, Ltd. "This (antenna) is small enough that in an armored vehicle scenario or in a diplomatic vehicle scenario it can be embedded directly into the roof of a car—or it can be mounted on the roof," said Nathan Kundtz, the president and CEO of Redmond, Wash.-based Kymeta, which developed the technology. "Even a Prius can easily take one of these," he said.

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