uAvionix has successfully demonstrated its new Link Executive Manager (LEM) module to transfer Command & Non-Payload Communication (CNPC) control of a drone between a separate LTE (Long-Term Evolution) and C-band radio while in flight.
The ability for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to simultaneously leverage multiple and diverse Command and Control (C2) radios is a key part of mission-critical operations. This capability allows the UAV to use the most appropriate radio or frequency band for the specific mission or location and provides an essential backup C2 link in case of a lost link scenario with the primary system.
The new uAvionix LEM is a fundamental part of the design in DO-377A as envisioned by RTCA, which will enable multiple CNPC links from different radios to function in parallel on a UAV platform, ensuring optimal connectivity and link stability required for Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS) flight.
Functioning in-between the radio and autopilot, the radio agnostic LEM will enable the Remote Pilot to switch the active CNPC link to the most optimal radio and continuously monitor the status of each radio onboard the UAV during flight. Further integration of the LEM with the uAvionix George autopilot will simplify the integration of complex avionics for drone OEM and operators.
“The LEM was born out of a need we saw in our test flight operations,” said Christian Ramsey, President of uAvionix. “Our own flight operations team had to simultaneously operate on microLink ISM radios while testing skyLink C-band radios and needed a way to control and monitor those links on the aircraft. We envisioned that other operators would have a need for multiple links and developed our LEM as a radio agnostic solution to do that.”
Operating on multiple simultaneous links would enable a UAV to send critical C2 data over a protected C-band link, ensuring predictable connectivity to the UAV to support BVLOS and certified operations. Simultaneously an LTE or ISM radio can be used for payload-data transmission while acting as a failsafe for CNPC.