AUVSI Xponential, Dallas. The Aviator UAV 200 satellite communications (SATCOM) terminal by Cobham SATCOM, maker of satellite and radio communications equipment, transmitted live video over a low-bandwidth data link for beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or drone, operations.
“Full HD video at 1 fps or 800 by 600 at 6 fps is a significant value and strategic enhancement for low-altitude, long-endurance (LALE) UAVs that would typically be flying blind when beyond the range of high-bandwidth point to point links,” says Cobham SATCOM Regional Sales Director Andrew Legg. “This allows these small tactical UAVs to operate in mountainous areas or in long range out-and-back applications whilst offering the operator a massive advantage of real-time situational awareness. The ability to re-task the platform real time is very important. It helps to drive costs down and mission efficiencies up.”
Cobham SATCOM logged the achievement during trials with AnsuR Technologies in Norway and Barnard Microsystems in the United Kingdom. During the trials, the SATCOM terminal “passed strategically important video data, a great value multiplier for BLOS UAV operational scenarios,” officials say.
Using Inmarsat’s new SB-UAV service, both companies have passed good-quality live video over what is considered a very low-bandwidth link for this type of application, officials add.
“While these low resolution or low frame rate video transmissions will of course not meet all customer requirements, we have to remember that it is not the video technical specification that is important, it’s all about the content or information contained in the transmission and whether that adds value to the mission.” Legg continues.
The AVIATOR UAV 200 is a contended bandwidth 200 kilobit-per-second (kbps), all-in-one line-replaceable unit (LRU) solution operating on the Inmarsat SwiftBroadband network. With a single contract, no rain fade in L-band and global coverage excluding the poles, it leverages the reliability of the Inmarsat network to offer the lowest size, weight, and power (SWaP) system of its type by a huge margin, according to company officials. Whether it is used for full C2, backup command and control (C2), sensor data, or imagery transfer, it is a game changer in the LALE connectivity marketplace. It consumes less than 28 watts of power and weighs just 1.45 kilograms. With no ITAR restrictions, the unit is commercially available and shipping to customers globally.
“AnsuR Technologies has been developing software solutions for mission-critical operations for a decade, including flying the first UAV with the Cobham SB200 aero SATCOM terminal,” says Harald Skinnemoen, founder and CEO, AnsuR Technologies. “With improved best-effort communication capacity over Inmarsat, and the ease of integrating it with our software, the AVIATOR UAV 200 terminal was exactly what we were looking for to successfully provide customers a long-range photo and video communication capability via satellite even for UAVs under 25 kilograms."
“Our technical staff installed the Cobham AVIATOR UAV 200 SATCOM terminal on our Panchito medium-range Remotely Piloted Aircraft within five working days of receiving the unit, including the interfacing of the navigation information from the Panchito Flight Management Unit,” says Dr. Joseph Barnard, managing director, Barnard Microsystems Limited. “Three working days later, we relayed compressed video at 1 to 4 frames per second via the Cobham AVIATOR UAV 200 terminal using the Inmarsat SwiftBroadband satellite data relay service at data throughput rates from 110 kbit/sec to 190 kbit/sec, using the less expensive contested or shared service option.
“Our technical staff were impressed with the lightness, the low electrical power draw, and the superb performance of the Cobham AVIATOR UAV 200 terminal, based on our experience with a range of other airborne and land-based SATCOM terminals,” Barnard adds. “The Cobham AVIATOR UAV 200 is our satcom terminal of choice for our Panchito RPA, which is used in civilian mapping and monitoring applications, and as an Electronic Support Measures and Monitoring RPA in military applications.”
Cobham SATCOM satellite and radio communication terminals perform in the most challenging and remote environments on land, at sea, and in the air.
Cobham is a global technology and services provider, delivering solutions to the most challenging problems, from deep space to the depths of the ocean.
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