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Field Command Post Free Space Optical Communications (FSOC) Mesh Network

Description:

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Info Systems 

OBJECTIVE: Develop robust FSOC voice/data/video communications network using visible or infrared light transmission for use in Field Command Posts intercommunications networks with the objective of decreasing installation time, increasing data security and transmission capacity while reducing Electro-Magnetic (EM) signature. Additionally, we seek to establish the capability to sustain communications in near range dispersed command post configurations via a Mesh Network which can self-identify and self-configure the node access to the network. This project will align with the following Army Chief of Staff Modernization Priorities: Distributed command post network infrastructures, network communications in denied environments, reduction in force electromagnetic signatures and up-tempo force command and tactical operations. 

DESCRIPTION: United States peer and near-peer potential adversaries have developed Electronic Warfare (EW) capabilities which can locate, degrade and disrupt traditional radio frequency communications networks. They have also demonstrated the ability to identify opposing combatant assets through the tracking of operating EM footprints and target those assets within hours of those assets becoming operational. It has become imperative for US field assets to reduce their electro-magnetic footprint and develop alternate technologies which can sustain network communications of sufficient bandwidth that can support high traffic volumes. Existing wireless communication networking systems can be traced via their EM signature, resulting in enemy location of US assets. These networks can be disrupted, jammed and hacked. They also require extensive encryption protocols which increases cost and delays development and fielding. By transitioning to FSOC technology, the US will also gain immunity to traditional radio frequency jamming technologies as the light wave communications network operates at frequencies that are immune to jamming of any known capability. This technology also has the advantage of being very difficult to intercept and interpret so information security is enhanced above that of standard radio signals. This SBIR proposal seeks to develop and integrate existing and emerging FSOC technologies which are based on the use of transmitting targeted, modulated light waves through open atmosphere, combining this capability with established Mesh Communication Network protocols in order to build an inherently encrypted short range dispersed command post communications network. The use of modulated light waves completely eliminates the EM signature inherent in wired and wireless communications, thus increasing the difficulty of opposing forces to detect the command post. With this new proposal we seek to link individual shelters to a combined network which is robust, can withstand removal of a node, has reduced EM signature and offers the opportunity to increase communications bandwidth. By incorporating Mesh Networking technologies we seek to provide the field command post with a fluid physical configuration capability as well as best signal automatic node linkage and network participation. The desired outcome of this Phase I project is the delivery of a design concept and technology demonstration of a Local Area Network (LAN) consisting of three voice/video/data communication network nodes. Each node will operate at least one Free Space Optical Network Transceiver. Nodes shall be capable of Automatic Network Connection protocols plus automatic signal drop reconnection capability. Node dispersal distance threshold is 150 meters minimum. Data transfer threshold shall be a combined transfer rate of 1Gb/s per transceiver. Bit Error Rate (BER) threshold shall be a minimum of 95% confidence of 10E-6 range sustained over a period of 1 hour at sustained 60% maximum transfer rate per node. The node cube shall be restricted to two-man portable maximum. Hardware installation and network configuration shall have a 30 minute per node maximum threshold. 

PHASE I: At the conclusion of the six (6) month the Awardee shall produce a conceptual design and breadboard for a FSOC network. Initial capabilities shall be the following: • Transceivers, capable of meeting the minimum data transfer distance. • Three node network with three transceivers total. • 1 Gb/s data transfer rate, bi-directional, combined, per transceiver. • Transceiver alignment system. • Transceiver to utilize technology safe for human operation. • Node Signal Drop Network system sustainment capability. • Transceiver mast and mounting system if no military option exists. • Primary power source to be 120 VAC, 60Hz Additionally the Awardee shall deliver the following: • Technology demonstration to establish performance thresholds met or exceeded. • Six monthly reports, with each report containing the following: • Expenditure to date, against proposed schedule. • Technical progress to date, against proposed schedule. • Technical achievement highlights, as well as problems or decision-points reached. • Within first two reports, present market research of all existing and future market opportunities outside of DoD applications. • Projected cost per unit of system capable of meeting Phase II performance objectives. Final Technical Report, submitted within 15 days after contract termination, containing the following: • Summary of accomplishments. • Interfacing plan, e.g. ensuring interoperability with existing military functions. • Network schematics • A list of maintenance items, frequency of replacing such items, and specific training required. • A cost analysis of estimated network system life cycle, including the cost of maintenance items and consumables, as well as the initial capital cost of procuring the system – over 5 years. This Phase I SBIR is not projected to perform work of a DoD Classified nature. All work performed during Phase I is for technology proof of concept and performance evaluations. Phase I Option Period • Design and implement remotely operated Transceiver alignment capability. • Design and implement an automatically initiated interrupted signal link retrieval process between nodes in sub second timeframe. 

PHASE II: The objective of the Phase II effort is to provide a FSOC network capability for US Army Field Command Post facilities. Building upon and sustaining features from Phase I developments, Phase II is intended to increase data transfer speeds, decrease node network link time, increase node distance, node quantities and increase network system reliability. Phase II Thresholds and Objectives: The data transmission system shall receive data from existing US Army communications platforms and capable of functioning outdoors in temperatures ranging from minus 400F – 1200F. Data transmission distance shall have a 1,000 meter threshold with an objective distance of 1,500 meters. Data bandwidth threshold shall be a minimum of 3Gb/s per transceiver with an objective of 5Gb/s, with a Bit Error Rate (BER) in the range of 10E-6 over the span of 1 hour at 90% network capacity. Network node to node connectivity threshold/objective is 99% over the course of 24 hour operation in average weather conditions. The system shall have a signal drop alarm and automatic network link recovery process. The system shall continuously map network nodes and present the data in graphical format to the network operator. If node to node connectivity cannot be re-established between nodes, the system shall seek out alternative available pathways to re-establish connectivity with the primary partner node. The system shall assist the operator in redirection of the transceivers during the network linkage recovery process. System shall also have the capacity to designate nodes as hub node or end node. System shall have a transceiver signal strength monitor and the capability to sustain optimal signal strength after initial transceiver alignment. A physical hardware capable of demonstrating the concept in a field environment should be shown. In this project, the delivered product shall be installed for testing in a Base Camp Integration Lab (BCIL) modeled on current US Army standard for a Combat Outpost. The awardee shall refine the Phase I concept to withstand military environmental conditions and expeditionary power generation constraints where power supply is 120 VAC, 60Hz and provided by Tactical Quiet Generators (TQGs). Produce and deliver a functional system prototype for testing to include integration with current military qualified digital information modem transmission devices. Awardee shall supply a network system configuration of four nodes, each with two transceivers each capable of meeting system specifications and simulating a Mesh Network communications configuration. System shall have the means to securely mount transceivers in an elevated position while allowing for remotely operated transceiver repositioning and alignment. System Cube: Shall be configured to be limited to Two-Person lift per System component – maximum. Awardee shall furnish system subject matter expert for final test and evaluation period to support system installation and removal at the conclusion of the test period, to be held at the US Army test facility at Fort Devens, MA. Awardee shall furnish equipment designed to test data load node and network capability while tracking system reliability, BER, and Signal to Noise (S/N) ratios. Awardee shall plan for the system evaluation period to accumulate 14 twenty-four hour test periods, scheduled over a three week timeframe. After initial system installation, tests shall be conducted by Army personnel over the three week timeframe to capture weather related performance impacts. Additionally the Awardee shall deliver the following: • Technology demonstration to establish performance thresholds met or exceeded. • Bi-Weekly telephone conferences with the objective of monitoring project performance, conveying technical challenges and identifying opportunities for improved capabilities which align with DoD objectives. • 24 monthly reports, with each report containing the following: - Expenditure to date, against proposed schedule. - Technical progress to date, against proposed schedule. - Technical achievement highlights, as well as problems or decision-points reached. - Projected cost per unit of system capable of meeting Deployed System performance objectives. Final Technical Report, submitted within 15 days after contract termination, containing the following: • Summary of accomplishments. • Interfacing plan, e.g. ensuring interoperability with existing military functions. • Network schematics • A list of maintenance items, frequency of replacing such items, and specific training required. • As part of Phase II Month 12 Project Reports, the vendor shall deliver the following: A cost analysis of estimated network system life cycle, including the cost of maintenance items and consumables, as well as the initial capital cost of procuring the system – over 5 years. • Prototype Operations Manual and Equipment Safety Assessment Report • Source code for all software developed under the terms of the SBIR Phase II contract. 

PHASE III: • Enable rapid installation, activation and near range dispersal of secure FSOC network for US ground forces. • A multi-node and rapidly deployable FSOC network would provide a high capacity communications network for disaster recovery areas or conflict prone areas where geographical location is fluid and transitory. • A system of this type and capabilities would greatly reduce the cost of setting up urban Local Area Networks in developing areas. • This system also avoids the data traffic congestion of the VHF bands and would vastly expand the wavelengths available for data/voice and video networks. Combining a Free Space Optical system with a microwave transmission would produce a hybrid system capable of 99.999% system availability while avoiding the costs of running fiber optics or copper wire networks. 

REFERENCES: 

1: "Performance optimization of free space optical mesh networking with auto-orienting transceivers": R. Ghimire, S. Mohan Jul 2014 16th International Conference on Transparent Optical Networks https://www.researchgate.net/publication/269268462_Performance_optimization_of_free_space_optical_mesh_networking_with_auto-orienting_transceivers

2:  "Gigabit Laser Ethernet Transceiver for Free-Space Optical Communication Systems" J. Ramirez, S. Parthasarathy, A. Shrestha, D. Giggenbach German Aerospace Center Presented at Conference for Application of Lasers for Sensing and Free Space Communication, Oct 2013 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260872463_Gigabit_Laser_Ethernet_Transceiver_for_Free-Space_Optical_Communication_Systems

3:  "Network Architecture of Bidirectional Visible Light Communication and Passive Optical Network" C.W. Chow, C.H. Yeh, Y.Liu, C.W.Hsu, J.Y. Sung IEEE Photonics Journal, Jun 2016 http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpls/icp.jsp?arnumber=7470256#article

4:  "Optical bidirectional beacon based visible light communications" S.V. Tiwarie, A. Sweaiwar, Y.H. Chung Optics Express Vol 23, Issue 20 Oct 2015 https://www.osapublishing.org/oe/fulltext.cfm?uri=oe-23-20-26551&id=327699

5:  10 Gbps Mobile Visible Light Communication System Employing Angle Diversity, Imaging Receivers, and Relay Nodes

6:  Hussein, AT and Elmirghani, J

7:  IEEE/OSA Journal of Optical Communications and Networking, Vol 7 Issue 8, 2015. http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/89032/1/JOCN.pdf

8:  Free Space Optics Summary

9:  http://www.fsona.com/technology.php?sec=fso_guide

KEYWORDS: FSOC, Optical, Communications, Mesh, LAN, Network, Laser, Light, Free, Space 

CONTACT(S): 

Frank Murphy 

(508) 233-4444 

frank.j.murphy2.civ@mail.mil 

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