Rolling out new technology is no simple task for any government organization. In particular, defense contractors and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) continue to face increasing demands around protecting and saving human lives, making the technology solutions serving these applications critical to a mission’s success. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place. How reliable any new technology is plays a huge factor in its deployment – will it work consistently, even in the most demanding environments, and without failure?
The advancement and proliferation of wireless data communications have enabled applications that were once thought impossible to achieve. The elimination of hardwires as the only data transport medium has enabled novel ways of accomplishing difficult and mission-critical tasks. For example, how far would we have gotten in the field of robotics with limited mobility of these systems? How advanced would our military be without the information gathered during solider training exercises? How would we be able to effectively track assets such as guided parachutes or missile guidance systems without a wireless data connection? Would unmanned systems (ground vehicles, aerial systems, etc.) even be in existence? Thanks to secure wireless data communications, these applications are all possible and it doesn’t end there.
With the continued developments around government technology and its widespread implementation around the globe, manufacturers and operators now need new and better ways of scaling the communications and control of these systems. Applications that require many communication endpoints or nodes, such as soldier training exercises or unmanned system applications, can leverage proven techniques to achieve secure Command, Control, Communications and Computing (C4) links.
What are the Proven Methods to Scale Secure Wireless Connectivity?
There are various access methods or multiplexing techniques that provide communications services to multiple nodes (endpoints) in a single-bandwidth wireless medium. There are five basic access or multiplexing methods, but there is one communications protocol in particular called Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) that is enabling new capabilities for government and defense organizations. TDMA is a frequency channel access technique for shared communication networks, essentially enabling a more sophisticated way to drive Point-to-Multipoint communications. It allows multiple transceivers to access and share a single radio frequency channel without interference by dividing the signal into different transmission time slots. TDMA also provides the timing parameters that allow each transceiver to report at a pre-determined time. Each transceiver is assigned a specific time slot to transmit a message, receive a message, repeat another transceiver’s message or remain idle. In turn, this allows transceiver networks to work in an un-polled environment, such as in a network of GPS stations. So why is this important for the government and defense industry?
Unmanned Systems & Swarming Applications
Imagine having multiple unmanned systems (sea, ground or air) operate together to achieve an objective, all while keeping soldiers out of harm’s way. Not only is this possible, but it is an emerging application called swarming. Swarms are groups of unmanned vehicles or systems that work together to achieve goals, communicating with each other and assisting other unmanned vehicles in the swarm with tasks. To be considered a swarm, unmanned systems must communicate with each other and the ground control station to perform tasks as an intelligent group. Multiple unmanned systems operating in tandem greatly expand the capability of individual platforms. However, the overall value of swarming unmanned systems only works if they can operate autonomously: meaning they can travel, adapt, communicate, negotiate and carry out missions with little to no human intervention. Therefore, unmanned systems must build communications network between themselves and ground control.
This is where the TDMA protocol comes into play. Implementing TDMA for unmanned systems is not just point-to-multipoint communications network, but also is a master-less data communications network. For instance, a swarming application would prove unsuccessful in a point-to-multipoint application if the master was removed. Interested in learning more about how this works? Get in touch with us here and we will gladly share insights into making unmanned swarming applications a reality.
You can also find out more about how we’ve enabled the reliable and secure command and control of unmanned systems for over a decade.