European Space Agency

LightBar LightBar Project

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Objectives

The emergency services, utilities, logistics and construction markets are undergoing a transformation in the way they deliver services. With digital connectivity and applications, they now have a vital requirement to be connected everywhere.

The LightBar project aims to ensure that these critical services can meet their connectivity requirements wherever they are on Earth.  

By addressing this challenge, initially for emergency services in the UK, the project will reposition UK lightbar manufacturing in the global market. Following the completion of this project, this This activity might also aid the possible future integration of disruptive 5G-satellite technology into products as part of the digital transformation of emergency services.

The flexible LightBar design provides hybrid connectivity, satellite (initially L-band) and cellular bonding, and resilient positioning whilst being lightweight, small form factor, modular, and low profile.

The image below highlights the some of the key features the enhanced lightbar design has:

Challenges

ESN will only connect to 95% of the UK for voice and even less for data; Lightbar will be a seamless hybrid communication system ensuring ubiquitous connectivity outdoors across the UK

Benefits

The developed LightBar design delivers continuous, consistent bandwidth connectivity anywhere, anytime for mission critical data and services. By seamlessly switching between terrestrial and satellite communication networks using network bonding and meshing, and situational prioritisation of data, the solution provides ubiquitous connectivity with consistent bandwidth performance access to mission critical data for service providers and users globally. 

 The developed LightBar enables:

  • Faster and more efficient access to the emergency services and other assistance in areas of low terrestrial communication coverage or bandwidth e.g. in rural locations.
  • Increased access to mobile working - resulting in reduced road miles and increased available work time
  • Uninterrupted connectivity for access to back office systems, critical data and updates, increasing situational awareness, reducing response times to incidents.
  • More accurate information from the scene to second and third response teams allowing critical updates ensuring the correct response and support potentially increasing the number of lives saved and reducing the impact of incidents to the wider community.  

Features

The enhanced LightBar system utilises terrestrial cellular networks where the bandwidth and signal coverage allows, and L-band satellite communication using the Inmarsat BGAN terminal where 3G and 4G are not acceptable for the required service.

The seamless IP data service that is delivered optimises the available communication capacity, automatically routing application data between cellular and satcom communications bearers seamlessly, and reassembling the data streams without user interaction.

System Architecture

Existing emergency services users are heavily dependent upon (push-to-talk) voice services, though there is a transition to the use of data services in the sector. The enhanced lightbar supports:

  • the transition to mobile data networks that operate at higher frequencies than Tetra
  • data rich applications including geo-spatial data standards
  • integration with higher capability sensing (multiple video cameras) and computing capability (for instance for number-plate and facial recognition applications)
  • existing vehicle upgrades to enable enhanced connectivity - all vehicles fitted with a Lightbar to achieve better 4G LTE performance than available with hand-carried or internally fitted LTE modems
  • connectivity of critical services such as voice and geo-spatial applications over satellite, even when out of terrestrial coverage.

There are a variety of different applications operating on a client device (in-vehicle system) which need to access a server and demand real-time or cached data exchange securely and seamlessly. The integrated hybrid connectivity LightBar platform provides an alternative solution to existing in-vehicle gateways, offering augmented connectivity and optimised IP-based traffic routing as outlined by the graphic below:

Plan

The Technology Phase is based on the following milestones:

  • Preliminary Design Review (PDR) – end 2018/early 2019
  • Critical Design Review (CDR) – mid 2019
  • Final Design Review (FDR) – spring 2020
  • Technology Phase completion including delivery of prototype product – end 2019/20 FY

Current status

The LightBar Project is working through the Q3/Q4 Review process within the Technology Phase. 

 Ingoing testing of the ground terminal

FEM with antenna array (Composed of 3 antennas on top) in near field range during test 

Plan view of the antenna array

Plan view of antenna array with the extra WIFI, cellular & GPS antennas.  (We are still working on these extra antenna)

Contacts

ESA Contacts

Status date

Wednesday, November 27, 2019 - 13:12