ViaLight Communications (VLC)
VLC offers laser communication solutions for data transmission between flight platforms, such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), aircraft and high altitude platforms (HAPs), and from flight platforms to the ground.
This technology is especially interesting for flight-platform manufacturers and operators, who experience a bottleneck in real-time communication from their platforms.
In the last decades microwave communications has come to its limits of transmission capacities, as bandwidth requirements in communications or remote-sensing (surveillance, disaster management, border control) applications ever increase.
Sensor resolution and frame rates continuously grow creating the need for enhanced communications.
Laser communication is particular interesting for data transmission between platforms in space and with the ground.
Laser communication provides:
- Increased transmission rates (>1Gbps)
- Robustness to jamming, interception, and detection
- Small, light-weight flight terminals with low energy consumption
- Transmission distances from a few 100m in platform-ground links up to several 100km in inter-platform connections.
These are some of the advantages of laser communication, with respect to other types of communication.
Project: Laser Communication with Flight Platforms
VLC is the specialist for the development of high-performance flight terminals and ground stations.
Scenarios range from aircraft/HAP downlinks to inter-platform connections, but VLC also supports next-generation terrestrial laser connections.
VLC was founded as a spin-off from the German Aerospace Center (DLR), Institute of Communications and Navigation. Together they share a history of more than 15 years in research on free-space laser communications. The DLR prototype systems have been successfully demonstrated in several experiment campaigns on flight platforms.
The fields of expertise are in such diverse areas as communications engineering, mechanics, optics, software design, atmospheric turbulence, eye safety.
From space to industry
Laser communication has been researched and also demonstrated in space applications, for example in inter-satellite links between various satellites, such as Spot4-Artemis, OICETS-Artemis, TerraSARX-NFire since the late 1990s. The DLR institute collected valuable experience in the performance of downlink campaigns from TerraSAR-X and OICETS. A wide range of measurement data was recorded during these campaigns, which now forms the basis for successful laser links through the atmosphere.
DLR and VLC have a joint basis of more than 15 years experience in laser terminal development for aeronautical applications. Two terminal generations have been successfully demonstrated on stratospheric platforms and aircrafts. Special care was applied to create small, light-weight terminals with low power consumption tailored for the needs of flight platforms.
Since 2010 a new generation of ground stations is available, which can be moved within days to any place in the world.
ESA Business Incubation
Markus Knapek, Joachim Horwath, and Dr. Dirk Giggenbach are the founders of ViaLight Communications VLC. All three have participated in a large number of demonstration campaigns during their work at DLR.
The company offices are located at the ESA Business Incubation Centre (BIC) Oberpfaffenhofen near Munich, Germany. The proximity to the partner for technology development, the German Aerospace Center DLR, is an important benefit of this site.
The ESA’s business incubator provides support for many aspects of setting up the young company, such as management coaching, the provision of office space, and contacts to private investors.
VLC is being hosted at ESA BIC Oberpfaffenhofen from July 2010 to June 2012.
Phone: +49 8105-77277-63
ViaLight Communications GmbH
ViaLight Communications website
Last update: 22 March 2013