Cambridge, UK – 1st February 2017 – Design and innovation consultancy, Plextek, in a competitive tender against a mix of large defence contractors and research organisations, has been appointed by the UK Government’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) to lead the £2m, four-year Adaptive Communications Transmission Interface (ACTI) research programme.
Under the ACTI programme, Plextek will lead a team of specialists and experts from academia, to investigate cross-layer processing as a way of enabling Mobile Ad-Hoc Network (MANET) radio systems to utilise directional antenna techniques. An important goal of the programme is to create disruptive technologies that will improve the quality, reliability, data rates and range of military communications systems.
A Dstl spokesperson: “The ACTI research is an important programme for the Ministry of Defence. Military ad-hoc communication systems are currently limited by the range of an individual radio link and self-interference as messages are repeated through the network.”
“The ACTI research programme will explore the theory that current systems can benefit from the use of directional antennas. Over the next four years, Plextek, along with its partners, will be developing innovative MANET protocol stack and antenna technology that aims to demonstrate the benefits envisaged.”
The techniques that have been applied to achieve ad-hoc (infrastructure-less) connections and dynamic routing have been studied for many years under the general banner of MANET. However, the MANET ‘multi-hop’ approach has so far not delivered the anticipated step change in wireless system performance. Through the use of novel directional antennas, the ACTI programme will address the complex underlying causes of this, including link range and interference within the network by message forwarding. Cross-layer processing techniques will be developed to tackle the difficulties in allocating radio resource at the MAC layer, the complexity of dynamic routing in a mobile scenario and the needs of the IP layers (which assume a level of link stability that may not always exist).
Peter Doig, Business Manager, Defence at Plextek: “With this research programme we’ll be doing some pioneering work on MANET architectures that include directional, steerable antennas which have the potential to tackle some of the underlying matters that have hampered multi-hop MANET networks, with a view to enabling the next generation of military ad-hoc radios to provide an operational advantage to our military forces.”
“In teaming with our academic partners, we have the complete range of expertise to deliver the programme, including Plextek’s proven pedigree in applied research and innovation. Based on our industry-leading expertise in electronics design, antennas and propagation, we will be exploring opportunities to exploit this research programme to deliver effective technologies that improve military communications systems in the future.”
Notes to editors
Based near Cambridge, UK, electronic design and product innovation consultancy, Plextek specialises in solving complex engineering challenges for customers in a range of key markets including defence, security, medical and IoT.
In business for over 25 years, Plextek’s capabilities range from innovation and concept development to product and system design and equipment manufacture and supply. Other core areas of technology expertise include embedded solutions; sensor systems; RF systems; signal processing; and artificial intelligence and data analytics. By efficiently using a broad range of skills, Plextek delivers innovative solutions that meet the highest standards for robustness, reliability and ease of manufacture.
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