AVoptics secures support from DASA for innovative Optical Communications Technology

AVoptics is delighted to announce that it has secured funding and practical support from the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), a part of UK Ministry of Defence, to develop a free space optical (FSO) system which enables secure optical communications to remote platforms, such as Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs).

Small, unmanned platforms and remote distributed sensors require low SWaP for their communication systems, whilst simultaneously providing high data rate and enhanced security. Having a faster and more lightweight communications package to relay complex information (such as high-definition video imagery) allows smaller UAVs to fly longer and maintain information superiority.

Free Space Optical (FSO) networks provide greater bandwidths, lower probability of interception/detection and are free from spectrum licensing. However, despite these significant advantages, FSO usually requires stringent pointing and tracking (PAT).

The FSO system being developed by AVoptics attempts to overcome this issue through the use of novel, high-speed Modulated Retro Reflector (MRR) technology. Focussing on low size, weight and power (SWaP) makes the capability suitable for small Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs).

The system being developed by AVoptics will result in a significant reduction in system size, weight, power consumption and system complexity compared to other technologies, satisfying the complex technical demands of UAV operations.

Under the requirements of the DASA funded programme, AVoptics Ltd., a specialist optics research company, will demonstrate a drone-mounted, low-SWaP MRR asymmetrical communication link – reflecting a laser beam directly back to a base station with encoded high-speed data without the need for complex tracking.

DASA requires AVoptics to achieve a sequence of performance milestones, culminating in the demonstration of a high-performance, secure, optical communication datalink between a ground station and a UAV in flight in late 2021.

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