Satellite Communications Research and Innovation at Walton Institute

Walton Institute has been awarded funding in the 2020 Enterprise Ireland Technology Gateway and Technology Centre programme for new Capital Equipment.

Walton Institute won funding for Satellite Communications equipment which aims to support sectors using high precision tracking and monitoring for autonomous vehicles and robotics in Agri, Automotive, Geo Surveying, Navigation, GIS and any location based services.

The equipment comprises:

  1. A High-Performance Signal Generator
  2. A Satellite Link Simulator
  3. Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) specific receivers

The 3 items in combination will create a complete, end-to-end, satellite application simulator and validation suite – currently for GNSS. This translates to a comprehensive testing environment for industry to validate hardware, software and use case applications.

High performance signal generator

The high performance signal generator is a compact multi-channel high performance platform for complex and versatile testing in one device, with the ability to generate up to 31 virtual signals at once. This allows one to simulate a test environment with multiple sources without the need of extensive setups. This enables a broad range of additional applications such as testing receivers at multiple frequencies or superimposing an interferer moving over a large frequency span and multichannel functionality.

Satellite Link Simulator

The Satellite Link Simulator is a wideband channel emulator that allows for repeatable simulations of the uplink, payload and downlink in RF link tests. The equipment emulates the effects of the ionosphere and propagation through the atmosphere. Applications include satellite (LEO, GEO, MEO) and aircraft RF link testing, UAV testing, modem, transmitter and receiver testing, telemetry tracking systems, range verification as well as training and education. These applications are possible due to the specifications which supports instantaneous bandwidths up to 100 MHz, which allows it to communicate with a wide variety of devices.

Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS)

The Global Navigation Satellite System Receivers protect against interference, noise, multipath and other environmental effects with ultra-precise time synchronization for time transfer applications. The high-precision, low noise measurements provide 544 hardware channels which are assigned automatically and on-the-fly to all visible satellites.

The growing global demand for precise location information, in combination with the ongoing evolution of GNSS technology, means that demand is ever increasing. The global installed base of GNSS devices in use is forecast to increase from 6.4 billion in 2019 to 9.6 billion in 2029 with Asia-Pacific continuing to account for more than half of the global GNSS market. However, the European GNSS Industry accounts for more than a quarter of the global market share according to the EUSPA, ( European Union Agency for the Space Programme.) In terms of global annual GNSS receiver shipments, the market is forecasted to increase from 1.8 billion units in 2019 to 2.8 billion units in 2029.

In Ireland, there is a growing and thriving space industry and research community, facilitated through Ireland’s membership of the European Space Agency (ESA). As there are numerous possibilities for technology spin-offs and transfer and together with high technology contract opportunities this will serve to be a dramatic showcase for Irish Industry. GNSS has become a ubiquitous technology and will increasingly become more in demand. Regulations are coming down the line which provide the need for high precision GNSS. Examples include E-Call solutions for Automotive and Public Safety. Regulation is going to be required in any operation that requires precision, including autonomous driving, robotics, marine management, tracking, agriculture, manufacturing etc.

At Walton Institute we support Irish Industries in keeping ahead of the curve with research and facilitate their growth and development through R&D services through the Enterprise Technology Gateway.

Walton Institute and the team are dedicated to the growth and sustainability of the Space Industry in Ireland and globally. We share the vision that Ireland can perform on the European stage as well as compete globally and we are agents to the investment by Enterprise Ireland to fulfil this vision.

This article was first published on the Walton Institute website.

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