Communication Systems

Development of communication systems and signal processing algorithms for aeronautics and UAVs

Avionics and Unmanned Systems Department develops wireless communication systems based on SDR (Software Defined Radio) technology for unmanned vehicles using commercial development platforms including Lyrtech’s SFF SDR DP and the open platform USRP (now from National Instruments).

In addition, the department also design and develops digital beamforming algorithms for onboard antenna arrays which allows to electronically pointing the antenna beam without needing a mechanical pointing system reducing the size and weight. This technology can be exploited for LOS and satellite communications as well as for satellite based navigation improving their performances. Furthermore, signal processing can be used for estimation the direction of arrival of interfering signals and modify the beamforming to mitigate their effect. The beamforming algorithms are implemented in FPGA-based devices which allow high speed execution.

The communications laboratory counts with electronic instrumentation for the development and test of RF devices up to 13 GHz, including signal analyzer, 4-port differential network analyzer, vector signal generator and analog signal generator.

The communications laboratory also counts with a communication network simulator and emulator called EXata© which can be used for assess the performance of communication networks and protocols by simulating them in different operation conditions. The application source code is available so new protocol and traffic models can be implemented and integrated. The simulator can also be run in emulation mode (real-time execution) which allows performing SIL (Software in the Loop) tests to assess the behavior and performance of real software applications under different network conditions. In emulation mode, HIL (Hardware in the Loop) tests can also be performed to assess hardware devices with network connectivity for different network conditions. In adition, EXata© can be interconnected with other simulation environments (such as VR-Forces© and VR-Vantage© that are used by CATEC’s Simulation and Software Departments) which together constitutes an integrated tactical simulation environments including the communication domain.

Jointly with the multivehicle systems laboratory, MANET (Mobile Ad Hoc Networks) communication protocols are developed. With these protocols the vehicles can communicate directly with each other without a central node and hence allowing the development of real distributed algorithms. MANET routing protocols are simulated in EXata© before they are implemented in real systems.



Test of an upconverted board at the laboratory

MANET protocol simulation with EXata

MATLAB simulation of beamforming algorithm