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Proceedings Paper

Design and early development of a UAV terminal and a ground station for laser communications
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Paper Abstract

A free-space laser communication system has been designed and partially developed as an alternative to standard RF links from UAV to ground stations. This project belongs to the SINTONIA program (acronym in Spanish for low environmental-impact unmanned systems), led by BR&TE (Boeing Research and Technology Europe) with the purpose of boosting Spanish UAV technology. A MEMS-based modulating retroreflector has been proposed as a communication terminal onboard the UAV, allowing both the laser transmitter and the acquisition, tracking and pointing subsystems to be eliminated. This results in an important reduction of power, size and weight, moving the burden to the ground station. In the ground station, the ATP subsystem is based on a GPS-aided two-axis gimbal for tracking and coarse pointing, and a fast steering mirror for fine pointing. A beacon-based system has been designed, taking advantage of the retroreflector optical principle, in order to determine the position of the UAV in real-time. The system manages the laser power in an optimal way, based on a distance-dependent beam-divergence control and by creating two different optical paths within the same physical path using different states of polarization.

Paper Details

Date Published: 29 September 2011
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 8184, Unmanned/Unattended Sensors and Sensor Networks VIII, 81840E (29 September 2011); doi: 10.1117/12.898216
Show Author Affiliations
Alberto Carrasco-Casado, Univ. Carlos III de Madrid (Spain)
Ricardo Vergaz, Univ. Carlos III de Madrid (Spain)
José M. Sánchez Pena, Univ. Carlos III de Madrid (Spain)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8184:
Unmanned/Unattended Sensors and Sensor Networks VIII
Edward M. Carapezza, Editor(s)

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