Digital Beamforming Arrays
Next-Generation Digital-Beamforming (DBF) Arrays
Our next generation of DBF antenna technology has extended the RF coverage of the antenna from S-band to L/S/C telemetry bands simultaneously. We have utilized a tri-band array to demonstrate the first implementation of a new architecture that we call Universal Beamforming Technology (UBT), which can be applied to a wide variety of DBF applications, including communications, radar and telemetry.
We partnered with an antenna element provider to demonstrate the following proof-of-concept hardware for a US Government customer:
- RF operation 1 – 6 GHz
- Scan extent: +/- 90 deg Azimuth and Elevation (with roll-off)
- Target acquisition/tracking at <<13 dB EbN0 (the practical limit for zero BER)
- Tracking rates > 100 deg./sec.
- 16 simultaneous dual-polarized beams
- Error-free bit rates up to 30 Mbps from a flying source (hardware supports 120Mbps)
- Optimal (pre-detection) combination
- Multipath mitigation due to novel processing approach
We used current-generation low-cost commercially-available hardware to prototype a small-scale array to demonstrate such high performance with the potential for greatly-reduced SWaPC (Size Weight Power & Cost).
Excellent IM3 performance was demonstrated by the distributed digital receiver (an inherent feature of our DBF approach).
The System acquired and tracked 30 Mbps source moving at 120 deg/sec within +/-60 deg. field of view, and was even able to produce an error-free signal while tracking over +/- 90 deg in azimuth and/or elevation, in the presence of multipath.
We continue to develop UBT through our IRAD efforts, particularly in the following dimensions:
- Increasing maximum data rate per channel
- Increasing maximum aggregate data rate over all channels
- Increasing maximum number of simultaneous beams
- Reduce the SWAP footprint
- Reduce the DBF cost by 3-5x compared to E-9 generation (2008)
- Increase the hardware reliability and add fault tolerance
- Fabricate flight-qualified production hardware for mission operation
- Extend our UBT demonstration platlform from Rx-only to Tx/Rx
- Demonstrate applicability of UBT to telemetry, communications and radar
- Demonstrate multi-function capability using UBT
- Investigate applications of UBT for ground, sea, air and space
- Extend UBT to very large arrays