Free-Space Optical Communications: Light Detection and Ranging Enhanced Data Delivery
Airborne lidar has proven to be a highly valuable asset for gathering high quality geospatial intelligence information. Advanced lidar systems collect and process full waveform returns for each emitted laser pulse. Full lidar waveform data can be exploited to see through obscurants (e.g. dust, clouds, rain, snow, fog, and smoke), foliage, ocean water, etc, which enables systems to map areas under degraded visual environments; detects objects and land features under forested areas or camouflage; or detect mines and other object under sea water. These systems generate extreme volume of data that is traditionally stored, post processed, and later distributed through a processing exploitation dissemination (PED) chain. This process can take days to weeks to deliver to the warfighter, which limits its usefulness for tactical operations. A potential solution to improving the PED timeline is to utilize the on-board lidar transceiver as a high bandwidth free-space optical communications link to transmit the data to a remote ground station receiver. Arete Associates and LGS Innovations have partnered on this program to develop and demonstrate a Co-use Lidar Optical Communication System (CLOCS) designed to operate within the current Army framework of unmanned aerial systems (UAS). Arete Associates and LGS Innovations are best-in-class providers of advanced airborne lidar and free-space optical communications, respectively. Arete and LGS will leverage decades of development and>$100M CRAD investment to demonstrate full system performance by the end of Phase-II.
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