Everything RF: New Phased Array Antenna for SATCOM Applications on Mobile Platforms


ReQutech and Forsway together with a research team from the Linköping University of Technology have collaborated to develop a new Phased Array Antenna solution for Satcom applications on mobile platforms.

This project is supported by the strategic innovation program “Smarter Electronic Systems” – a joint venture by Swedish innovation agency Vinnova, Formas and the Swedish Energy Agency to promote Swedish technology. This program is a part of a pivotal development initiative by ReQuTech within Phased array antennas. The company aims to introduce the completed solution to the global market once it is complete.

Since 2009, ReQuTech has developed antenna solutions for various Satcom bands – Ka, Ku X and C band. They have now proposed a unique new concept for developing a cost-efficient phased array antenna product employing a delicate balance between the number of components from antenna architecture and antenna elements to minimize the number of microwave components used so they can reduce the overall cost.

The innovative new Phased Array Antenna solution aimed at:

  • SATCOM applications deployed on mobile platforms such as connected vehicles and airplanes
  • Enabling broadband in emerging markets lacking reliable connectivity

 

The proposed system aims to enhance the broadband coverage in areas where cellular network is not available and for high-end applications such as connected vehicles. The project plans to deploy the newly developed flexible, Phased Array Antennas on moving platforms for satellite communication (SatCom), Communication-On-The-Move (COTM), in combination with the next generation of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellites.

The Vinnova-backed initiative combines expertise from three well-known players in their respective fields: ReQuTech, for its niche expertise in antenna architecture and SatCom antenna supplier, hybrid SatCom modem technology and equipment supplier Forsway, and Linköping University of Technology (LiU) Dept. of Electrical Engineering advanced signal processing specialists.

The phased array antenna is a complex solution that needs a careful designing of antenna elements and distribution of network to meet the requirements on bandwidth and low losses. The proposed concept aims to create a new SatCom product with low production and maintenance costs that will deliver high data rates in areas, where mobile cellular infrastructure is not available. The partners are combining expertise, components, and target:

  • The hybrid antenna of mechanical and electrical steering from ReQuTech
  • Smart signal processing for handoff between satellites in a MIMO multibeam scenario and for beam steering, channel estimation and optimized use of available transceivers (LiU)
  • Hybrid satellite/terrestrial network terminal solution from Forsway
  • Making a product that is less inexpensive than existing solutions.

 

Earlier, array antenna solutions were used for high end, complex applications such as military and radar. The use of hundreds to thousands of transceiver chips makes the device costly and non-realistic for commercial use. A phased array antenna could meet all requirements from HTS communication with LEO satellites; however, there are no mature products which are suitable for low-cost commercial.

This exciting project together with experts from ReQuTech and LiU will take this work to the next step, offering an affordable solution for connected vehicles. Forsway and ReQuTech have also embarked on a project co-funded by the European Space Agency to optimize solution for connected vehicles. The Vinnova array antenna project will put this last component in place by creating an affordable antenna for Forsway’s hybrid connected vehicles solution.

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