From: TE Connectivity - AD&M
To: Scott Jenkins,
Subject: The Significance of End-to-End Connectivity for Next-Generation UAVs
Date: Thu May 29 15:02:08 MDT 2014

The Significance of End-to-End Connectivity for Next-Generation UAVs
By Greg Powers, Market Development Manager

As the sophistication and capabilities of UAVs continue to evolve, engineers need to pay greater attention to end-to-end connectivity to avoid performance bottlenecks. Many UAVs are long-endurance platforms capable of sustained flight measured in days, loitering to perform surveillance and strike missions. In their surveillance role, UAVs may carry multiple cameras and sensors to deal with a variety of frequencies, from visible light to infrared and thermal. In addition to the spectral challenges, an important issue is creating cameras that overcome low resolution and narrow fields of view.

The ARGUS (Autonomous Real-Time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance) imaging system, for example, can spot a six-inch object within a ten-square-mile radius from 20,000 feet in the air. The ARGUS system uses 368 cameras and can capture, process, and download one million terabytes a day. Combining images from multiple cameras and other signal processing needs require fast embedded computers and sophisticated software. Because of the enormous amount of data generated by the sensors, an additional system challenge is separating the wheat from the chaff via onboard processing so that only critical data is transmitted to satellites or ground stations. Even if the ARGUS system can process one millions terabytes a day, the larger ISR infrastructure can’t handle such loads, even with hefty data compression.

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Meet the Expert

Greg Powers
C4ISR & Space Applications, Embedded Computing

Greg Powers serves as the Market Development Manager for the Electronic Systems and Space segments within TE Connectivity’s (TE) Aerospace, Defense & Marine business unit. His areas of expertise include rugged embedded computer packaging, high data rate board level and input/output solutions, fiber optics and spaceflight connectivity.

5 Questions with Greg:


How do you think VPX is evolving to better assist designers?
A: TE’s VPX portfolio has expanded with VITA 61 XMC 2.0, VITA 62 Power Supply Connector, VITA 66 Fiber Optic Modules and VITA 67 RF Modules. VITA 65: OpenVPX continues to evolve and the VSO standard organization is assembling a VPX tutorial.


Why is signal integrity so crucial to designers and system architects?
A: Processor speeds continue to escalate, but our selection of the industry of low loss media is limited, so more attention needs to be given to maintaining waveforms through connectors, PCBs and wire/fiber. Headroom must also be provided to account for environmentally induced variation.


How can a poorly designed connector impact performance in UAV systems?
A: Poor design practice can adversely impact UAV performance both electrically and mechanically, and prevent the UAV systems from achieving their full potential by degrading data throughput, time on station and/or system reliability.


When working with UAVs, how do you balance the connectivity needs versus strength and weight requirements?
A: Connectivity is job 1, but strength is needed for optimal reliability and weight can suffer as a result. Advanced materials like composites are both strong and light. The designer can also evaluate copper vs fiber optics for weight/performance advantages.


Is it necessary to use connectors that exceed standard VPX requirements?
A: This is really dictated by the anticipated environment. The VITA 46 compatible MULTIGIG RT 2-R connector was tested by the VITA 72 Study Group and provides designers an even greater solution set to draw upon when preparing to deploy VPX.

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