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  • Satellite Evolution

Inmarsat to enable UAV performance with satellite digital twin developer Gatehouse Satcom

Inmarsat has welcomed Gatehouse Satcom, an embedded software specialist offering network emulation solutions for Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), as the latest company to join its Velaris Partner Network, building on over 20 years of close collaboration.

Gatehouse Satcom has created a digital twin that offers a dynamic virtual emulation of Inmarsat’s physical satellite network, which looks and behaves identically to its real-world counterpart. Vehicle manufacturers and operators can now simulate Inmarsat's Velaris connectivity service for UAVs through the ‘BGAN Network Emulator’ and ‘BGAN Application Tester’ which enables the validation of communications performance, testing of procedures, and the ability to predict real-world outcomes under a variety of operational scenarios.

All this means industry stakeholders can validate their systems during the developmental phase, by allowing UAVs to virtually ‘fly’ in a range of flight conditions without ever leaving the ground.

Flight paths can be emulated by Gatehouse Satcom’s digital twin capability and a detailed connectivity report can document and verify how the datalink was maintained throughout each virtual flight. By creating a repeatable test environment, verification and validation solutions will be key developmental phases for new uncrewed vehicles and will provide assurance to OEMs and operators that they are compliant with industry standards and regulations.

Powered by the Inmarsat’s global ELERA satellite network, Velaris provides secure communications for commercial UAVs to fly beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) and seamlessly integrate with aircraft in commercial airspace. Velaris allows operators to send their UAVs on long distance flights and access various applications, such as real-time monitoring, to ensure safe integration with air traffic. ELERA capabilities are being further enhanced with the addition of two Inmarsat-6 satellites, the most sophisticated commercial communications satellites ever built – the first of which will enter service in the coming months, with the second following in mid-2024.

Joel Klooster, Inmarsat Senior Vice President of Aircraft Operations and Safety, said “A truly uncrewed and autonomous airspace will rely on the safe development of UAV technologies, and the assurance that these new technologies have gone through rigorous testing procedures on the ground. The latest stage of our partnership with Gatehouse Satcom provides this capability for our customers, and brings us another step closer to unlocking the true potential of the UAV market and reinforces the Velaris Partner Network as a de-facto centre of excellence for the future of UAV communications technology development.”

Søren Rønnest, Gatehouse Satcom’s Chief Technology Officer, said “Having worked with Inmarsat for over two decades, today’s announcement marks an exciting new chapter in our partnership and will help to cement Gatehouse Satcom as the number one validation partner for Inmarsat satcom communications in the industry. We look forward to working with Velaris partners to enable the safe development of UAV innovations through our digital twin network emulation capabilities, as well as applying our learnings from the aero segment to the UAV market. The Velaris Partner Network highlights the power of industry collaboration to deliver bespoke solutions, and we’re proud to be playing an important part in this – and excited to see what we achieve together.”


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