High Bandwidth, Fast Tracking, Free-Space Communication Link for UAVs

Period of Performance: 01/08/2003 - 07/08/2003


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Coherent Technologies, Inc.
135 S. Taylor Avenue,
Louisville, CO 80027
Principal Investigator


Coherent Technologies Inc. (CTI) proposes to develop a laser communication system (LCS) coupled with a high-speed pointing and tracking scheme for greater than 1 Gb/s data rate applications for missile defense flight tests. The LCS will provide eyesafe operation with an engagement range greater than 10 miles between an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and ground based platforms. The pointing and tracking unit will be designed to reduce the probability of data link breakdown due to low visibility conditions. The approach will capitalize upon innovative scanner designs developed by CTI for military laser radar systems and the advancing scanning mirror technologies such as Micro-Opto-Electrical-Mechanical Systems (MOEMS). The baseline architecture uses a 1.55-mm transmitter optimally coupled to micro-mirror assembly. Three potential configurations for tracking in a highly dynamic environment are envisaged. For completeness, system-level performance analyses will assess the cost effectiveness and field worthiness of competing optical source technologies besides laser diodes. The Phase I effort will generate system level signal-to-noise ratio assessments for 1.5 micron wavelength data link under various environmental conditions, (2) establish closed-loop pointing and tracking scheme for maximum link performance, and (3) develop a proof-of-principle prototype and execute risk reduction measurements to ensure technical and cost feasibility for Phase II field-worthy hardware implementation. Potential applications include ground-to-ground, ground-to-air, sea-to-air mobile communication systems for video broadcast, telecommunication applications, and other data intensive applications that do not rely on two fixed locations. The proposed system is anticipated to enhance troop communications and battlefield awareness and support search and rescue operations.