Swansea’s new innovative satellite antenna array paves way for low cost satellite internet access for IOT for the emergency vehicles.
Swansea University’s Antenna laboratory were thrilled to receive the ‘Best Paper Award’ at the 40th ESA Antenna Workshop (October 2019). The yearly conference, held at The European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC), Netherlands, brought together some of the leading researchers and companies in the field from across Europe and beyond. Ben Falkner as the first author of the paper presented the work and received the award at the workshop closing ceremony. The paper other authors were Hengyi Zhou, Thanos Arampatzis, Hisamatsu Nakano and Amit Mehta.
The paper detailed the development of an array of 4-arm curl antenna that paves the way for new low-cost satellite communication terminals for emergency service vehicles and beyond. By using a hybrid of two different methods of beam steering, the circuitry required to feed the antenna has been reduced by five times in comparison with existing methods. This underpins an over 75% reduction in final antenna cost.
Terminals for moving vehicles on the Inmarsat BGAN network have typically used dish antenna on a moving arm to provide a focused beam that points to the satellite. These solutions have unfortunately always been expensive, heavy and easily damaged. There have been attempts to use electronic beamforming to replicate this steering from a flat panel, but due to the steering angles required and the cost of components, none of these have been commercially viable in till this point.
The research is part of the Lightbar Project funded by ESA with Satellite Catapult, UK acting as the prime. The Lightbar project aims to create a new all-in-one communication device combining Wi-Fi, 4G and satellite communication. Swansea University is a key member of this consortium and its work on innovative satellite antennas is enabling successful delivery of the project.
The Swansea Antenna Lab is now preparing for the second development phase of the project where further improvements to performance and new materials for lighter weight will be developed. This achievement marks a year of success at the Antenna Lab after winning the 2-star innovation award from MBDA and successful ongoing work with Airbus and other industrial partners.
Dr Amit Mehta, director of the Antenna Lab at Swansea said: ‘It is a great honour for us to win the best paper award. It is highly prestigious as we had competition from top universities around the world, such as from Tokyo, Sydney, Germany, UK, France, Netherlands and other remaining EU countries. This award provides us with the credibility and confirmation that research done at Swansea is truly world leading.’
Top Image (Antenna Team Ben, Amit, Hengyi, Shuham and George)