WO2018081870A1 - Satellite mobility planning improvements - Google Patents

Satellite mobility planning improvements Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2018081870A1
WO2018081870A1 PCT/AU2017/051215 AU2017051215W WO2018081870A1 WO 2018081870 A1 WO2018081870 A1 WO 2018081870A1 AU 2017051215 W AU2017051215 W AU 2017051215W WO 2018081870 A1 WO2018081870 A1 WO 2018081870A1
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data
satellite
route
beam
optionally
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PCT/AU2017/051215
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French (fr)
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Andrew Bull
Stephen Dade
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Nova Professional Services Pty Ltd
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    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04BTRANSMISSION
    • H04B7/00Radio transmission systems, i.e. using radiation field
    • H04B7/14Relay systems
    • H04B7/15Active relay systems
    • H04B7/185Space-based or airborne stations; Stations for satellite systems
    • H04B7/1853Satellite systems for providing telephony service to a mobile station, i.e. mobile satellite service
    • H04B7/18545Arrangements for managing station mobility, i.e. for station registration or localisation
    • GPHYSICS
    • G01MEASURING; TESTING
    • G01CMEASURING DISTANCES, LEVELS OR BEARINGS; SURVEYING; NAVIGATION; GYROSCOPIC INSTRUMENTS; PHOTOGRAMMETRY OR VIDEOGRAMMETRY
    • G01C21/00Navigation; Navigational instruments not provided for in preceding groups
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04WWIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS NETWORKS
    • H04W36/00Hand-off or reselection arrangements

Abstract

A computer-implemented method for satellite mobility planning for a satellite communications network for a mobile asset comprising: processing satellite beam data to identify one or more satellite beam characteristics along or within a predetermined distance of at least a portion of a proposed mobile asset route; processing the route beam characteristics to determine whether a data transfer requirement of the mobile asset will be met along at least a portion of the proposed route; optionally identifying one or more locations of expected failure to meet the data transfer requirement along the route; optionally issuing machine readable instructions to one or more computing devices to adjust a system parameter in response to the expected failure.

Description

S atel l ite M obi l ity P la n n i ng I m provem ents

B ackgrou n d of the i nventi on :

Current Software Systems do not address the full need to manage iSatellite Connectivity "to mobile air and sea platforms " especially with new long-range :broadband "services involvi ng dynamic data rates from remote-controlled advanced sensors, such as E lectro-optic or Infra-red sensors or cameras that can be automated. In addition, typical dataflows (such as IP data throughputs) across corporate SATCOM networks tend to be quite dynamic and scalable to align with typical end-user demand profiles when running high-rate data services. As satell ites become more powerful, with many high-gai n 'spot, coverage beams, the antennas on mobile platforms become smaller and smaller. These spot coverage beams result in very high power on the RF (radiofrequency) transmit and receive paths to and from the satellite.

Agile wideband data networks are an essential part of new-generation networking for ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance) activities and missions. This incl udes all Ai rborne, Maritime and Land deployed platforms that need to feed high-rate data back to the network on a timely basis during use.

Ai rcraft Satellite Broadband (from a central H Q site or operational centre to an aircraft platform) is a recent technology that works in practice, but is not easy to manage with current software technology. Managing this mobile broadband over satellite presents technical challenges that can reduce the quality of data links with current software.

H igh data rate Satellite Communications have been previously available to fixed land stations with large satellite dishes to transmit and receive. In recent years, commercial satellites have been launched that offer 'high-throughput, data services. The challenge with these service is that mobile platforms (such as aircraft and maritime ships) often need to move through multi ple narrow 'spot beams, of satell ite coverage " and sometimes need to transition across satellite networks to complete a typical long-range mission.

Software tools that allow human operators at both ends of the satellite link to manage this complexity are needed by the end-user and also any Network Operations Centre ( NOC) that does not belong to the satellite service providers themselves. Many current software systems being used to do this are currently designed for large fixed land stations, and do not address 'mobility, for the smaller platforms that have recently or will soon become SATCOM-enabled. The reference to any prior art in this specification is not, and should not be taken as, an acknowledgement or any form of suggestion that the prior art forms part of the common general knowledge.

S u m m a ry of the i nvention :

The agile satellite mobility planni ng tool of the i nvention includes a new approach and new features for planning data flows across long-range data networks where mobile :on-the-move" platforms such as ships and aircraft are involved.

In some aspects, this satellite mobil ity planning approach primarily involves: - satellite mobi lity planning for aircraft and ships; multi-satell ite coverage planning; and

- sensor- to-Satel lite Communications automation and dynamic re-planning.

The system and method of the invention enable a highly optimised mobile (such as air-sea) Satellite Communications (SATCOM) network, well suited to long-range communications and ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance) operations i nvolvi ng high-rate data or high- quality sensor data for example from automated sensors.

T he system and method of the invention allows a dynamic, agile, intuitive approach to radio frequency (R F) network management for long-range SATCOM and sensor networks, for example where mobile platforms such as aircraft and ships are involved i n a homeland security, emergency services or military scenario.

The agile satellite mobility planni ng tool of the i nvention enables a multi-satellite capacity uti lisation to be planned up quickly and efficiently, for groups of mobile aircraft and ship platforms that rely on Satellite Communications to transport critical operational data while On-the-move_. In addition, automation of the operating modes of the Sensor-to-SATCOM chain, (known as a :Sensor-to-SATCOM Automation'capabi lity), enables the most efficient flow of video or sensor data across a long-range, SATCOM-enabled data network that may span states, countries and oceans, with many mobile network nodes.

The satellite mobility tool of the invention can plan a wide range of SATCOM terminals and platforms " from small portable land SATCOM sites, right up to large fleets of SATCOM- enabled shi ps. The number of ships/vehicles/sites that can be planned and then managed is scalable " for example, from just 5 systems, up to around 500 sites or vehicles.

The agile satellite mobility planni ng toolset of the invention enables engineers and operators to provide control, management and unprecedented levels of network situational awareness " to both the N OC-H Q (Network Operations Centre / H eadquarters) sites and the deployed remote user. In some embodiments, this map-based tool enables high quality video and wideband data " the NOC operator can tune for optimal setup across complex agile networks, and the remote user enjoys 'easy wideba nd SATCOM deployment, which has been elusive in the past.

In various implementations the system and method of the i nvention comprises one or more of the followi ng:

1. SATCOM Mobi lity Planning for aircraft and ships, where the aircraft may also be an

unmanned Remote Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) with associated Ground Control Stations (GCS sites);

2. M ulti-satellite Coverage Planni ng; 3. Sensor-to-SATCOM Automation;

4. R F System Capability Modell ing;

Some i mplementations comprise a combination of all of the above functions i nto an integrated, single- environment software tool.

Accordingly, in one aspect of the i nvention, there is provided a computer-implemented method for managing a satellite communications network for a plurality of mobile assets comprising: receiving satellite beam data in relation to a predetermined satellite, the data comprising one or more of beam type; beam location and beam data transfer rate which is optionally a calculated beam data transfer rate; receiving data from a network node, the data comprisi ng node health data; receiving data from a mobile asset, the data comprising one or more of, planned route, location and heading data, the mobile asset data being optionally input by a user; receiving a data transfer requirement in respect of the mobile asset; processing the received mobile asset data to determine a projected route of the mobile asset; processing the satellite beam data to identify one or more satellite beam characteristics along or within a predetermi ned distance of the route; processing the network node data to determine predicted network health along the route; processing the route beam characteristics and the route network health data to determine whether the data transfer requirement will be met along at least a portion of the route; optionally identifying one or more locations of expected failure to meet the data transfer requirement along the route; optionally issuing machine readable instructions to one or more computing devices to adjust a system parameter i n response to the expected failure; wherein the adjusted system parameter comprises one or more of mobile asset route; a satellite beam characteristic; data route within the network; and satell ite identity.

In another aspect of the invention, there is provided a computer-implemented method for satellite mobi lity planning for a satellite communications network for a mobile asset comprisi ng: processing satellite beam data to identify one or more satellite beam characteristics along or within a predetermined distance of at least a portion of a proposed mobile asset route; processing the route beam characteristics to determi ne whether a data transfer requirement of the mobile asset will be met along at least a portion of the proposed route; optionally identifying one or more locations of expected failure to meet the data transfer requirement along the route; optionally issuing machine readable instructions to one or more computing devices to adjust a system parameter i n response to the expected failure.

In a further aspect of the i nvention, there is provided a computer-implemented method for managing a satellite communications network for a mobile asset comprising: processing satellite beam data to identify one or more satellite beam characteristics along or within a predetermined distance of at least a portion of a proposed mobile asset route; processing the route beam characteristics to determi ne whether a data transfer requirement of the mobile asset will be met along at least a portion of the proposed route; optionally identifying one or more locations of expected failure to meet the data transfer requirement along the route; optionally issuing machine readable instructions to one or more computing devices to adjust a system parameter i n response to the expected failure. In another aspect, the invention provides a computer-implemented method for coverage planning for a plurality of satellites comprising: analysing in respect of each satellite at least one beam characteristics; comparing the said at least one beam characteristic between a pl urality of said satell ites; optionally determining one or more preferred satell ites; wherein the beam characteristics comprise one or more of beam coverage area, satellite transmit/ receive power, available frequencies, transmit angles to satellite and satell ite network compatibility with ground stations

In another aspect, the invention provides a computer-implemented method for sensor to satellite automation comprising: for each satellite, processing satellite beam data to identify one or more satellite beam characteristics along or within a predetermi ned distance of at least a portion of a proposed mobile sensor route; comparing the said at least one beam characteristic between a pl urality of said satell ites; optionally determining one or more preferred sensor route(s). In another aspect, the invention provides a computer-implemented method for radio frequency system capabi lity modelling comprising: analysing at least one R F performance parameter; analysing at least one key constraint associated with a proposed SATCOM plan; determi ning a model for performance based on the at least one R F performance parameter and the at least one key constraint; wherein the analysed variables comprise one or more of: satellite power, termi nal power, R F bandwidth, li nk power, propagation across the RF link, R F i nterference, noise floor, look angle, satellite antenna gain, termi nal E IRP, and terminal G/T. The method according to the i nvention may comprise receivi ng data from a network node, the data comprising node health data which is optionally heartbeat network data. H eartbeat network data as described herein comprises any data sent to a processor from one or more nodes i n a network which provides data on the health of the node or on an aspect of the network. In some embodi ments, the system of the invention comprises a heartbeat network which is separate from the communications or data transmission network and for example exists only to relay node or network health information.

The method may comprise rendering data on a user interface and optionally providing a means for user editi ng of said data. The method may comprise segmenting one or more types of data. In some embodiments, the method of the invention comprises processing multiple data variables which optionally comprise one or more of video data rate, portion of route covered, cost of satellite beam and optionally renderi ng one or more performance metrics, and / or geographical map- based options on a user interface.

The method of the invention may also comprise processi ng a plurality of proposed mobile asset routes. The method may also comprise renderi ng a plurality of proposed satellite beam options on a user interface for visual review by a user.

In some embodiments, the method of the invention comprises issui ng an alert in response to a predetermined identified event which optionally comprises one or more of: an identified planned coverage gap, an expected fail ure to meet a data transfer requirement, an expected fai lure to meet a priority demand.

In some embodiments, the method of the invention comprises processing one or more line of sight RF parameters. The method may also comprise processing one or more VSAT parameters and / or RF-tethered RPAS parameters wherein the RF-tethered parameters comprise one or more of transmit power, frequency band used; radiofrequency propagation characteristics; minimum altitude of the R PAS, local terrain.

The method of the invention may also comprise processi ng weather data and optionally determi ning one or more of an i mpact and a probability of a weather condition impacting on a communication li nk wherein the processing optionally comprises analysis in respect of a Ku- band and / or a Ka-band SATCOM service. The method may further comprise displaying potential weather impact data using a time-scrubbing user interface.

The method of the invention may comprise further processing steps which are optionally one or more of plotting, analysing, visualising and comparing alternative satel lite beam coverages. The method may also comprise visually and quantitatively comparing the satellite transmit and receive power performance of one or more satellite- beam options.

In some embodiments, the method of the invention comprises compari ng one or more of power, frequency and least cost metrics. In some embodiments the method comprises comparing one or more variables to evaluate (for example: graphically, geospatially and / or quantitatively) new satellite options that become available in future.

The method of the invention may also comprise layering one or more datasets to compare them wherein the dataset(s) optionally comprise one or more of route segments, satellite beam coverage. In some embodiments, the method of the invention comprises use of a sensor quality-level structure matched to typical ISR which is optionally: Critical-Surge, L ive

Operations, Background, Standby.

The method of the invention may also comprise re-planning of li nked SATCOM data :pipes"to enable transport of a higher qual ity or lower quality video (or sensor) data flow. In some embodiments it comprises scheduling one or more surges and in some it may comprise matching a sensor demand segment with a core constraint of a SATCOM network. In some embodiments the method of the invention comprises modelling and optionally displaying a plurality and preferably all of the RF performance parameters and key constraints.

Throughout this specification (i ncl uding any claims which follow), unless the context requires otherwise, the word comprise" and variations such as :comprises"and comprisi ng" will be understood to i mply the incl usion of a stated integer or step or group of integers or steps but not the exclusion of any other i nteger or step or group of integers or steps.

B r i ef D escr i ption of th e D raw i ngs

F igure 1 provides detai I of one example of a possi ble communications architecture accordi ng to the invention.

F igure 2 shows a typical sequence of tasks to fine tune the Sensor-SATCOM-R F chain according to the invention.

F igure 3 depicts example sensor risk alerts and alarms according to the invention. F igure 4 shows the detailed parameters of what provides this Net-SA feature. F igure 5 depicts an example process flow for processi ng of rain i ntensity and wind speed data. F igures 6 to 13 are example screen shots from example implementations according to the invention.

F igure 14 depicts an example set of satellite beams.

F igures 15 to 16 are example screen shots from example implementations according to the invention.

F igure 17 depicts an example process flow for processing of coverage of static GE O and Shapeable LE O satellites.

F igures 18 to 20 are example screen shots from an example implementation according to the invention.

D eta i l ed D escr i ption

It is convenient to describe the i nvention herein in relation to particularly preferred embodiments. H owever, the invention is applicable to a wide range of embodi ments and it is to be appreciated that other constructions and arrangements are also considered as falling within the scope of the invention. Various modifications, alterations, variations and or additions to the construction and arrangements described herein are also considered as falling within the ambit and scope of the present invention.

In some aspects, the invention provides a tool to plan dataflow paths uti lising multiple satellites, and also to plan automation of the sensors that generate the dataflows. The invention provides a new method and system to quickly and dynamically optimise long-range dataflows across a secure but mobi le wide-area network.

This software toolset adds interactive control and advanced planning to ISR long-distance networks.

With a more dynamic planning cycle, to suit these smaller, mobile vehicle, aircraft and ship platforms " SATCOM service plans may change frequently (for example within minutes, or hourly) during critical :surge"demand times. The :agile"component of the mobility planning tool according to the i nvention can for example address the following planning tasks: preplanned frequency plan :profile"changes (weeks ahead); rapid same-day re-planning to tune capacity usage; fast (eg real-time, or within minutes, or same-hour) re-planning to address a signal fault; preventative power adjustments to fortify a planned power margin. In support of the dynamic, agile Mobility Planning cycle, live weather feeds for example for rain intensity and local wind speeds are i mportant inputs. For example, using these weather feeds power can be adjusted to fortify the I i nk power against weather fades on the R F signal. Rain Intensity, measured as a :rain rate'is highest in tropical regions such as Northern Australian coastal areas, South-E ast Asia and adjacent seas.

Important features that greatly assist i n effective planning of the satellite capacity for mobile platforms comprise: a) Remote Control i n 'near real time., (eg. less than 30 seconds), of SATCOM and Sensor communications devices on a mobile aircraft or mariti me vessel. Preferably with remote control from a central H eadquarters (H Q) or Network Operations Centre (NOC) site at a central, strategic location for example for a typical j oi nt ISR mission. The central site could be a fixed site H Q, NOC or a relocatable site :Deployed NOC / Deployed H Q~ F igure 1 provides detai l of one example possible communications architecture according to the invention. b) Monitoring in 'near real ti me, of these components, so that the 'health , of the end-to-end satellite links can be monitored frequently and the control loop can quickly :fine tune'the R F link portion of the SATCOM service or Sensor quality mode and data throughput, especially duringvehicle (whether on land, sea or i n the ai r) movement towards the :beam edge'of the allocated satell ite beam coverage. Figure 2 shows a typical sequence of tasks to fine tune the Sensor-SATCOM-R F chain according to the i nvention. c) F ully configurable Si mple Network Management Protocol (SN M P), and Internet Protocol (IP) polli ng rates, parameters shared and user access constrai nts, so that 'management, overhead to regularly control and monitor data traffic does not reduce the data li nk capacity itself duri ng operations. Priority heartbeat "polling can conti nue even under a SATCOM fall back to a low-rate (< 200 kbps l ink speed) SATCOM R F bearer, but more detailed :diagnostic"pol ling may be limited to a medium-rate (200-800 kbps) SATCOM R F bearer and also over high-rate R F bearers (>1.o Mbps); d) A 'big data, approach to Control & Monitoring activity, so that trends, history, predictive alarms, graphical link health, and automated reports can be generated, applied and analysed for i improvements; e) A display (for understandi ng and quick response) of the :Situational Awareness'of the current satellite communications network. This is referred to as :Network Situational Awareness (Net- SA) herein. F igure 4 shows the detailed parameters of what provides this Net-SA feature. f) F ull integration with a 2D map (Geospatial Information System, GIS), which preferably can be viewed simultaneously with one or more of the other screens in the tool. This allows the exact mobility (position, heading, speed, attitude) of vehicles, aircraft or vessels to be fully understood, supporting faster planning decisions " see for example F igure 8.

A system according to the i nvention provides one or more of the above mentioned features required in order to manage aircraft and maritime satellite communications. T he system of the invention enables control management and high levels of network situational awareness to one or both of the Network Operations Centre (NOC) and H eadquarters (H Q) sites and can further provide awareness dashboards to the deployed remote user. Some embodi ments comprising a map-based tool enable unusually high video and wideband data quality " the Network

Operations Centre operator can tune for opti mal utilisation across complex agile networks, and the remote user enjoys 'easy wideband satellite communications deployment, which has been elusive in the past.

Ti ny, intelligent heartbeats bounce across the long-distance satell ite communication backbone so the NOC Operator can watch from a 'satellite-eye view, and opti mise. Real-time status pictures, multi-angle views and rapid responses are preferable to bri ng out the best performance available. Rainstorm i mpact and other hour-by-hour hazards to the Satellite Network can be predicted, monitored, planned for and even re-planned when faults emerge. A workflow design addressing 'SATCOM Mobi lity, includes Automation and Dashboards to enable operators to both understand and respond at the speed required by vehicles, aircraft and shi ps. T his Mobility includes the mobi le nature of the vehicle, aircraft or ship, as well as the SATCOM service :mobility"to be quickly shifted from satellite-to-satel lite even where completely different satellite networks and transmission frequency bands are i nvolved.

The system of the invention may comprise one or more of the fol lowing functions to address one or more of these issues: a) Workflow Design for Mobility in SATCOM (satellite communications); i. Icons and layout to maximise Network Situational Awareness (Net-SA) through display of layered graphics, dashboards, power meters, routes, waypoints, operational areas and map-based status icons; ii. For fast workflow, an intuitive network browsing structure may be integrated here; b) Combination of the following concepts to enhance :Network Situational Awareness! i. Big Data " gatheri ng data on a regular (for example minute-by-minute) basis, from multi ple nodes (preferably every node) of the SATCOM RF network and aggregating into one repository and one common picture; ii. E nvironmental near-real-time feeds " for example gatheri ng location dependant data on weather, such as rain intensity and wind speeds, then for example projecti ng the data on a map- based user interface, with calculations to estimate impact on high-frequency Ku-band and Ka-band SATCOM services; iii. ndustrial Internet of Things "automation for a SATCOM-Sensor context"

automated heartbeats, diagnostic channels, automated health history logging, automated status readings, preferably all with security and lock-down control over Management traffic dataflow. U nli ke the general :Internet-Of-T hings"(IoT) approach where 'everything is connected. - this :Industrial-IoT "or more specifically :M i I itary-IoT "approach includes designing security domains and access poi nts for every IP datalink in the network touched by this Mobility Planning tool; iv. Advanced Situational Awareness " with highly accurate R F signal logging (or

prediction) attached to the Mobile SATCOM stations in the overall system model ideally projected on a 2D and 3D map, preferably also visualisi ng the major constraints on SATCOM RF performance " beam coverage, RF interference, planned & actual station mobility, and specific tropical weather environmental data. c) Automation to intelligently compare and trend all signal (RF) power levels on a geographic basis, specifically where they share satellite capacity. i. Comparing levels across a moving network of vehicles that are sharing capacity on the same satel lite. ii. Trending based on Terminal type (air-sea-land), distance from edge of satellite beam, local weather environment, recent logged signal history and

equi pment/device profile active. d) Mobi le SATCOM dashboard that shows other communications li nks off the aircraft or vessel. i. L inks to ground, links to other interest areas "a re shown and analysed here. ii. F ull awareness of the linked communications services is important when analysing position and performance of a moving SATCOM vehicle, aircraft or ship. e) Specific integrated :Common Operating Picture "(COP) screen, that sits alongside the

satellite coverage planning screen. This screen shows status of a selected, filterable range of SATCOM-enabled mobile systems (vehicles, shi ps, sites) and their data status, network status and operational status. This COP enables fast visual isation of the SATCOM-enabled fleet for organisations where rapid-deployment and ability to respond to sudden tasking are core requirements " including emergency services, law enforcement, homeland security, Government and Defence organisations etc.; f) F uture prediction of weather i mpact on the high-frequency SATCOM services managed " with 2D and 3D modelli ng of larger weather patterns such as rainstorms based on live weather feeds for example of :Rain Intensity "from weather satell ites. i. Using algorithms to predict vector motion of vehicle / aircraft / shi p, as well as the motion of the weather pattern, such as an intense rainstorm cell itself; ii. In some cases, forecast data from external weather sources is also imported, as an additional feed " this combines a recent history with a 'next few hours, approach which is suited to the tasking cycles in a typical Satellite Network Operations Centre, when managing long-range mobile systems; iii. Algorithms combi ne weather science with SATCOM :li nk power fading'concepts in an hour-by-hour manner, aligned with advanced weather satellites producing high- fidelity data for cloud height, rain intensity and wind speed geographic data sets; iv. Consideration of the power available on the moving platform can be used to

determi ne best method to mitigate the rain fade risk " whether a :ride-through~ an alternate plan, a planned power boost or prepared auto-fallback strategy should be employed on the network.

E xa m pl e 1 " N etwor k O perati on s Centre P la n n er rol e

A Network Operations Centre Planner can plan & manage transmitted video to best quality as an U nmanned Aircraft hops from one satellite coverage to another " even across Commercial and M ilitary spot beam coverages. Transitions across edge of spot coverages can be planned, watched and managed with tight alert thresholds to prompt a rapid response. This capability can increase video quality and data rates. Network Planning techniques accordi ng to the invention may for example comprise:

Network heartbeats to efficiently transmit status to control poi nts & operators

R F link diagnostic channels to investigate anomalies and optimise

Using fallback or alternate channels where an R F link is down, to keep :health status" information constant;

Optimisi ng R F power usage, to boost video qual ity and i mprove data rates;

M appi ng of current movement vectors of the remote user;

Mapping coverage areas i n detail, and with live feedback to tune and optimise;

- Situational Awareness of all corners of the mobile network;

- Rainstorm prediction, to best mitigate the impact of storm fades on RF li nks;

E xa m pl e 2 - S atel l ite m obi l ity pl a n n i n g for a i rcraft a n d sh i ps

F igures 6 and 7 depict example screen shots from an example implementation of the invention. In some embodiments, the invention provides routes and waypoint planning, against layered, multi ple satell ite beam coverages from multiple satellites simultaneously. This may for example comprise satellites in different constellations, from different SATCOM service providers and with different anchor stations. A planned future Route can be received by the computing device (for example inputted directly, transmitted to the computing device, imported etc) and displayed and edited on the screen. In this embodiment, waypoi nt locations are displayed in a latitude-longitude format. In some embodi ments, waypoints are

timestamped for example i n U niversal T ime format. Waypoints typically represent the future :planned deployment "or :planned motion'positions of one or more assets over coming periods of ti me, for example hours-days-weeks.

Some embodi ments of the i nvention provide an ability to overlay a plurality of beam coverage regions and routes (land, air or sea or a combination thereof) si multaneously, to enable opti mised :medium-term"beam coverage planning decisions.

In some embodiments, planned routes may be segmented, for example, for multi-stage SATCOM plans matched to isatellite mobility'or the ability to operate across multi ple coverage beams and multiple satellites. Waypoint-to-waypoint segments across a route may be broken up for example in fine or coarse detail. Segments may also be matched to options for SATCOM beam coverage. Wider-area, lower data-rate beams may be considered when (best

performance) spot beams do not cover the planned route segments for each asset, such as a vehicle, ship or aircraft. In some embodiments, a multi-variable trade-off between multiple variables such as video data rate, portion of route covered, cost of satellite beam may be undertaken. In some

embodiments, simultaneous screens show graphical map- based options and also performance metrics i n a filterable text-based data comparison table. H aving this in a single- integrated, multi-screen tool enables fast and opti mal decision making around the complex decision space for choosing satellite beam coverage;

In some embodiments, the system and method of the invention can cover multi ple routes for clustered (nearby) ships and aircraft, which are commonplace on air-sea ISR or homeland security communications missions. Figure 8 is a screenshot from an example implementation and provides a visual example of this. Clusters of vehicles, shi ps, aircraft and portable land systems can be viewed and grouped together on the map- based screen. Satellite beam options can quickly be auditioned, to assess their coverage performance visually. Visual (person-in- the-loop) decision methods are in some environments found to be faster than algorithms " due to overlayed operational constraints, operational priorities per ship/vehicle along with a level of forward planning. Where coverage has gaps for a planned route, other features of the tool according to the invention can be used to assess, plan and alert an operator to a :planned coverage gap" The tool recognises the i mportance of matching the :SATCOM coverage" performance metric to the ipriority demand "segments across a planned mission route.

In some preferred embodiments, the system and method of the i nvention is able to plan both SATCOM R F (radio frequency) links, as well as local L ine-Of-Sight (LOS) R F links to enable the best end-to-end capability. This i ncludes functions to simultaneously plan R F links for:

SATCOM, LOS radio, intra-site ground point-to-point li nks, and U nmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) R F Tethers for mission data download or the :C2 datalink"

In some preferred embodiments, the system and method of the i nvention is able to plan large Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT)-li ke networks and also R F-tethered Remote Piloted Ai rcraft Systems (RPAS). For example, the RF tether may be planned as a potential local LOS R F link, but with the ability to move around i n a :range radius'that considers underlying terrain when required. The R F Tether range is calculated, displayed, and re-calculated when the :R PAS mini mum altitude'parameter is adjusted. This planning can be deployed to the Ground Control Station site, or reside at the OC or H Q central operations site. The R F Tether range considers: transmit power, frequency band used; radiofrequency propagation characteristics; minimum altitude of the RPAS, local terrain (mountains).

In some preferred embodiments the system and method of the invention may estimate the impact and l ikel ihood of weather conditions (such as tropical rain) fadi ng the SATCOM RF link power, in order to prevent and minimise SATCOM service outages due to rain. Rain intensity data may be imported into the tool, for example via a secure feed from the latest weather satellites (eg. external weather bureau access). Rain intensity data is processed, to assess the impact on Ku-band and Ka-band SATCOM services " with high risk rai n locations flagged for example, with colour such as red and orange heat map graphics over the map-based screens. F igure 10 and 11 depict an example screen shot of this aspect of the i nvention. The rain intensity, time-sensitive heat maps may be displayed on a time-scrubbing user interface, so the user can browse recent history and upcoming forecasts for weather / tropical rain intensity i n the local region where SATCOM services are bei ng planned or live monitored. See for example F igures 9 and 10.

In some preferred embodiments, other weather and associated data may also be used, for example environmental wind speed and rain i ntensity may be input into the system, for example from live feeds, to enable optimisation of SATCOM li nk availability in certain regions, for example in Northern Australia and South-E ast Asian tropical regions. See for example F igure 5 in which this feature is referred to as :Feature H "and see also F igure 11. In some implementations, both wind speed and rain intensity feeds are fully integrated and available throughout the :planni ng"and :automation "modules of the tool. Alerts, alarms, actions and analysis can be automatically run from when this environmental data exceeds a chosen threshold, within an area i mpacting on planning SATCOM routes. Sensor data and performance can also be considered, alerted and changed when heavy wind or rain exceeds the operational specifications for various Sensor options;

E xa m pl e 3 - M u lti -satel l ite coverage pl a n n i n g;

In some preferred embodiments of the system and method of the i nvention, there is provided the abi lity to plot, analyse, visual ise and compare alternative satellite beam coverages " whether they be M ilitary or Commercial satell ite capacity. See for example F igure 17 i n which this feature is referred to as FeatureJ . In some embodiments, the system and method comprise the ability to simultaneously compare one or more of beam coverage areas, satellite transmit/ receive power, available frequencies, transmit angles to satellite and also satellite network compati bility with ground stations.

Some embodi ments of the i nvention provide the ability to visually and quantitively compare the satellite transmit and receive power performance of the various satellite- beam options available at a given planned set of locations or routes. Figure 12 provides an example screen shot of this aspect of the i nvention. T he SATCOM transmit and receive power may be automatically modelled and displayed per option considered, when selecting beam coverage for a given location or route segment. T hese power levels and comparison to performance thresholds can be made avai lable throughout the planning and automation modules of the tool. According to this embodiment, Power to Beam Coverage to Video Performance trade-offs are able to be made readily and a enable user to reach the optimal SATCOM and Sensor plan.

Some embodi ments comprise the ability to simultaneously compare power, frequency and least cost metrics as decision support to the satellite beam coverage selection for a shi p or ai rcraft. See for example Figure 13. The followi ng metrics of satellite beam selection can be quickly assessed, with automatic calculations and automatic comparisons: distance-to-edge of beam, power gain, lease costs, visual coverage of route segment.

Some embodi ments of the i nvention provide comparison features to evaluate (for example: graphically, geospatially and / or quantitatively) new satellite options that become available in future, where li kely GE O (Geostationary orbit), M E O (medium earth orbit) and LE O (low earth orbit) and other non-circular satell ite coverages can be quickly modelled within the tool, to estimate the end-to-end SATCOM performance of a site using a new satellite constellation.

Some embodi ments of the i nvention provide map- based layeri ng features to compare a SATCOM termi nal fleet s planned set of routes, with multiple steerable beam coverages, includi ng :what-if"analysis if the beam was steered to another region. Some embodi ments provide map-based layering features to generate inputs (routes, locations & operation areas) from a companion isatellite antenna plotting'tool. See for example F igure 15. Geographic areas can be imported, generated, modified and prepared (sketchpad) to or from another external isatellite coverage planning tool " T hese areas can be polygon areas, route segments, vectors, multi-waypoint routes or simple clusters of point locations. In some embodiments there are provided layering features to display the results of a isatellite antenna plotti ng tool "to plan electronically shaped coverage beams " also showi ng i ndividual SATCOM termi nals and their resulting SATCOM services.

E xa m pl e 4 - S en sor-to-SAT CO M a utom ati on; In some embodiments of the invention, both satellite beam coverages and route segments for Sensor missions can be overlayed, compared and simultaneously planned. See for example, F igure 16. Along a ship or aircraft planned route, segments can be flagged to enable specific monitoring and automated alarms for the quality level of the returning sensor data. See for example F igure 19. Sensor quality-level requirements can be generated, plotted and visualised as part of the SATCOM planning process. In some embodiments, a simple sensor quality-level structure matched to typical ISR

(Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance ) operations is employed, such as: Critical-Surge, L ive Operations, Background, Standby). A simple structure such as this can be employed to potentially conserve valuable satellite bandwidth when the mission demand is not there. See F igure 16. In some preferred embodiments, there is provided a rapid, dynamic, re-planning of linked SATCOM data :pipes"to enable transport of a higher quality or lower quality video (or sensor) data flow. See for example, Figure 18. Preferred embodiments enable importing, displaying and visualising the evolving ISR sensor requirements, broken up per route segment, if need be.

Some preferred embodiments enable editi ng and tagging the segmented sensor requi rements (demand) to show operational data 4-level priorities such as Critical-Surge, L ive Operations, Background, Standby. See for example Figure 2 " in which this feature is referred to as :Feature X ". In this case, Sensor requirements can be mapped to SATCOM bearer performance-levels, for example:

CRITICAL-SU RGE = H igh-rate SATCOM segment; LIVE OPE RATIONS = M id-rate SATCOM segment;

BACKGROU N D = only Low- rate SATCOM needed;

STAN DBY = 'periodic R F Comms_, in case SATCOM activation is needed;

This approach ensures that the Management System'is always runni ng;

By running scalable SATCOM, the satel lite capacity can be shared amongst other vehicles, ships and aircraft in the fleet. Aircraft typically use a high level of satellite :power capacity "so are very important to optimise. This method allows H D full-motion video from multiple aircraft, by scheduli ng the surges " with automation assistance. See Fig. 16 for an example of highlighted Sensor segments and matching to SATCOM beam examples. See Fig 2 for the workflow support included. See also Figure 17. Some preferred embodiments provide features to match the :sensor demand "segments with the core constraints of the SATCOM network, being Beam Coverage; RF Interference; Mobi lity Routes (per platform) and mapped E nvironmental H azards ( intense rai n, high winds, forecast higher sea state zones). See for example F igure 20.

Some embodi ments comprise the ability to automate, alert and auto-change a profile change " in both SATCOM datarate and Sensor Quality mode (including bandwidth demand). T his includes automati ng both the :data source"( bei ng the Sensor) and also the :Data bearer "(being the SATCOM service for example over the SATCOM R F link). See for example F igure 19.

E xa m pl e 5 - R F System Ca pa bi l ity M od el l i ng

In some embodiments of the invention, there is provided the ability to model and display many and preferably al l of the R F performance parameters and key constraints, in a single- envi ronment software tool, enables highest efficiency SATCOM plans. T hese comprise for example: satellite power, terminal power, RF bandwidth, li nk power, propagation across the R F link, R F interference, noise floor. Look angles, satellite antenna gain, termi nal E IRP, termi nal G/T are all modelled as part of this, to allow analysis and automated calculations across the RF environment.

In some embodiments, RF Interference can be modelled " either point, area or movi ng vector; as well as antenna masks and radiation pattern angles. T he following interferers can for example be modelled here in the core tool:

Point interferer (specific angles); Moving vector interferer (tube and movi ng emitted);

Area interference (zone);

Specific, directional antenna interferer;

With each of the above modelled in air-ground or ground-space configurations. See for example F igure 20. In some embodiments, mobility of the air-sea platform is modelled accurately on a 2D map interface with the ability to quickly sketch or plot modified paths and :Plan B routes "with accurate Geospatial Information System (GIS) features integrated, plus the abil ity to quickly sketch or plot modified paths and :Plan B routes" Preferably this embodiment has the ability to automatically calculate distances, nearest coastal towns, distance to maritime boundaries and other basic GIS calculations is all fully i ntegrated into the fleet map view of this tool.

Claims

a i m s
A computer-implemented method for managing a satellite communications network for a plurality of mobile assets comprising: receiving satellite beam data in relation to a predetermined satellite, the data comprising one or more of beam type; beam location and beam data transfer rate which is optionally a calculated beam data transfer rate; receiving data from a network node, the data comprisi ng node health data; receiving data from a mobile asset, the data comprising one or more of, planned route, location and heading data, the mobile asset data being optionally input by a user; receiving a data transfer requirement i n respect of the mobile asset; processing the received mobile asset data to determine a projected route of the mobile asset; processing the satellite beam data to identify one or more satellite beam characteristics along or within a predetermi ned distance of the route; processing the network node data to determine predicted network health along the route; processing the route beam characteristics and the route network health data to determine whether the data transfer requirement will be met along at least a portion of the route; optionally identifying one or more locations of expected failure to meet the data transfer requirement along the route; optionally issuing machine readable instructions to one or more computing devices to adjust a system parameter in response to the expected failure; wherein the adjusted system parameter comprises one or more of mobile asset route; a satellite beam characteristic; data route within the network; and satell ite identity.
A computer-implemented method for satellite mobil ity planning for a satellite
communications network for a mobile asset comprising: processing satellite beam data to identify one or more satellite beam characteristics along or within a predetermi ned distance of at least a portion of a proposed mobile asset route; processing the route beam characteristics to determi ne whether a data transfer requirement of the mobi le asset will be met along at least a portion of the proposed route; optionally identifying one or more locations of expected failure to meet the data transfer requirement along the route; optionally issuing machine readable instructions to one or more computing devices to adjust a system parameter in response to the expected failure.
A computer-implemented method for managing a satellite communications network for a mobile asset comprisi ng: processing satellite beam data to identify one or more satel lite beam characteristics along or within a predetermi ned distance of at least a portion of a proposed mobile asset route; processing the route beam characteristics to determi ne whether a data transfer requirement of the mobi le asset will be met along at least a portion of the proposed route; optionally identifying one or more locations of expected failure to meet the data transfer requirement along the route; optionally issuing machine readable instructions to one or more computing devices to adjust a system parameter in response to the expected failure.
A computer-implemented method for coverage planning for a plurality of satellites comprisi ng: analysing in respect of each satellite at least one beam characteristics; comparing the said at least one beam characteristic between a pl urality of said satell ites; optionally determi ning one or more preferred satellites; wherein the beam characteristics comprise one or more of beam coverage area, satellite transmit/ receive power, available frequencies, transmit angles to satellite and satellite network compati bi lity with ground stations
A computer-implemented method for sensor to satel lite automation comprising: for each satellite, processing satellite beam data to identify one or more satellite beam characteristics along or within a predetermined distance of at least a portion of a proposed mobile sensor route; comparing the said at least one beam characteristic between a pl urality of said satell ites; optionally determi ning one or more preferred sensor route(s).
6. A computer-implemented method for radio frequency system capability modell ing
comprisi ng: analysing at least one R F performance parameter; analysing at least one key constraint associated with a proposed SATCOM plan; determi ning a model for performance based on the at least one R F performance parameter and the at least one key constraint; wherein the analysed variables comprise one or more of: satel lite power, terminal power, R F bandwidth, l ink power, propagation across the RF link, R F interference, noise floor, look angle, satellite antenna gain, terminal E IRP, and terminal G/T.
7. A method according to any one of claims 1, 2 or 3 comprising receiving data from a network node, the data comprising node health data which is optionally heartbeat network data.
8. A method according to any one of claims 1 to 6 comprising rendering data on a user
interface and optionally providing a means for user editing of said data.
9. A method according to any one of claims 1 to 6 comprising segmenting one or more types of data.
10. A method according to any one of claims 1 to 6 comprising processing multi ple data
variables which optionally comprise one or more of video data rate, portion of route covered, cost of satellite beam and optionally rendering one or more performance metrics, and / or geographical map-based options on a user interface.
11. A method according to any one of claims 1 to 6 comprising processing a plurality of
proposed mobile asset routes.
12. A method according to any one of claims 1 to 6 comprising renderi ng a plurality of
proposed satell ite beam options on a user interface for visual review by a user.
13. A method according to any one of claims 1 to 6 comprising issui ng an alert in response to a predetermined identified event which optionally comprises one or more of: an identified planned coverage gap, an expected failure to meet a data transfer requirement, an expected fai lure to meet a priority demand.
14. A method according to any one of claims 1 to 6 comprising processing one or more li ne of sight RF parameters.
15. A method according to any one of claims 1 to 6 comprising processing one or more VSAT parameters and / or R F-tethered RPAS parameters wherein the R F -tethered parameters comprise one or more of transmit power, frequency band used; radiofrequency propagation characteristics; minimum altitude of the RPAS, local terrain.
16. A method according to any one of claims 1 to 6 comprising processing weather data and optionally determi ning one or more of an impact and a probability of a weather condition impacting on a communication link wherein the processing optionally comprises analysis i n respect of a Ku-band and / or a Ka-band SATCOM service.
17. A method according to any one of claims 1 to 6 comprising displaying potential weather impact data usi ng a ti me-scrubbing user interface.
18. A method according to any one of claims 1 to 6 comprising further processing steps which are optionally one or more of plotti ng, analysing, visualising and comparing alternative satellite beam coverages.
19. A method according to any one of claims 1 to 6 comprising visually and quantitatively
comparing the satellite transmit and receive power performance of one or more satellite- beam options.
20. A method according to any one of claims 1 to 6 comprising compari ng one or more of
power, frequency and least cost metrics.
21. A method according to any one of claims 1 to 6 comprising compari ng one or more
variables to evaluate (for example: graphically, geospatially and / or quantitatively) new satellite options that become available in future.
22. A method according to any one of claims 1 to 6 comprising layeri ng one or more datasets to compare them wherei n the dataset(s) optionally comprise one or more of route segments, satellite beam coverage.
23. A method according to any one of claims 1 to 6 comprising use of a sensor quality-level structure matched to typical ISR which is optionally: Critical-Surge, Live Operations, Background, Standby.
24. A method accordingtoany one of claims 1 to 6 comprising re-planning of linked SATCOM data :pipes"to enable transport of a higher quality or lower quality video (or sensor) data flow.
25. A method accordingtoany one of claims 1 to 6 comprising scheduling one or more surges.
26. A method according to any one of claims 1 to 6 comprising matching a sensor demand segment with a core constraint of a SATCOM network.
27. A method accordingtoany one of claims 1 to 6 comprising modelling and optionally
displaying a plurality and preferably all oftheRF performance parameters and key constraints.
PCT/AU2017/051215 2016-11-03 2017-11-03 Satellite mobility planning improvements WO2018081870A1 (en)

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