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DSEI 2021: ECS unveils Tove data link

7th September 2021 - 11:00 GMT | by Andrew White in London

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Tove RF data link.

Tove is the first in a family of RF data link systems for ISR, with potential for installation on UGVs and USVs as well as UAVs.

Enterprise Control Systems (ECS) will unveil a DO-160 certified and reduced form factor RF data link to control autonomous platforms at DSEI, company officials have confirmed.

Speaking to Shephard ahead of the exhibition in London on 14-17 September, ECS officials described how the ‘small, lightweight, low-power’ Tove RF data link has been designed for use on Tier 2 and Tier 3 UAVs as well as UGVs and USVs.

According to ECS business development director, Jackson White, Tove is the first in a family of low-profile and lightweight form factor data downlinks, capable of supporting ISR missions in air, sea or on land at ‘extreme ranges’ up to 100km.

Featuring HDSDI, CVBS, USB and Ethernet inputs, Tove is compatible with legacy and future ISR sensor solutions, White added before confirming the data link was currently at Technology Readiness Level 7.

Tove ‘benefits from software-defined radio technology’, he explained, which ‘enables the maintenance of a robust long-range connection with rapid re-gain of the link. It also allows for seamless integration with existing ECS ground receiver infrastructure’.

Tove weighs just 190g and measures 110x75x17mm (length x width x height). Requiring 17-21W in power, the solution provides a UAV with downlink data rates up to 21Mbps.

The payload also comes with options for 5/10W power amplifiers, a ground data terminal, a handheld receiver and a key fill device.

White said that Tove can be supplied to customers with proprietary encryption and management systems to satisfy sovereignty and data security requirements of end users, adding: ‘Tove has been developed in response to the opportunities presented by the evolving UAV, UGV and USV markets. These platforms present significant cost, time and capability benefits compared to deploying high value fixed and rotary wing platforms to carry out the same task.’

According to White, Tove’s high-definition, low-latency video encoder optimises compression, reduces channel bandwidth and increases spectral efficiency. The solution also features GPS and telemetry data for positional information to fixed or mobile receive stations.

ECS has a launch customer for Tove although White was unable to confirm its identity. However, he did add that ECS was in talks with multiple original equipment manufacturers with regards to integrating Tove on board fixed and rotary-wing UAVs by the end of 2021.

Next variants in the Tove family will include an ‘asymmetric variant’ capable of bi-directional communications. White said: 'Basically, this will give them a similar capability to a mesh network. We're looking at that as the second member of the family, and then looking at new encoding methods and modulations for the third member of the mini data link family,’ he said before confirming roll-out over the next two to three years. 

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