March 15, 2017

Tech File: BGAN Satcom for the Wave Glider

Wave Glider with BGAN dome, two cameras and additional sensors (Photo: Liquid Robotics)

Wave Glider with BGAN dome, two cameras and additional sensors (Photo: Liquid Robotics)

Equipping unmanned systems in the ocean with faster and higher bandwidth communications options opens doors for researchers to more effectively monitor, manage and protect the ocean. Liquid Robotics now offers a BGAN satellite communication option for the Wave Glider, an unmanned surface vehicle, that enables persistent and mobile ocean monitoring over long durations. This service allows a Wave Glider to access 100x more satellite bandwidth (464 kbps vs 2.4 kbps) in locations around the world, when compared to traditional approaches such as Iridium RUDICS based communications. The additional bandwidth is critical for rapid access to compressed data such as audio and video.

 
Real-time access to high definition photos, audio or video provides a valuable new capability that accelerates both the deployment and operations of systems at scale. Liquid Robotics offers the BGAN option for its Maritime Surveillance solution, which detects vessels using sound gathered from a towed passive acoustic hydrophone. BGAN equipped Wave Gliders can transmit high definition visual and audio data allowing organizations to more quickly translate data into actionable intelligence. 
 
Liquid Robotics designed and integrated a Hughes 9450 modem onto the surface float of the Wave Glider. Integration of hardware and software includes a custom designed, protective housing, power duty cycling to conserve energy, and the transmission of acoustic and visual data files through Mission Management software. A 1MB picture transfers in approximately 32 seconds, if the modem is already active, or 2.5 minutes if the modem needs to power-up and acquire a signal. Similarly, a 3-minute snippet of acoustic data (approximately 4MB), would transfer in approximately 4 minutes.
 
Given the need to conserve system power, the BGAN modem is typically activated programmatically or by an operator based upon an event such as a contact report. Although initially integrated for Liquid Robotics’ Maritime Surveillance solution, the company said it expects other applications and needs for BGAN communication capabilities by customers, partners and developers.
 
energyreal-time accesssatellite bandwidth