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Internet of Things Everywhere on Earth: a satellite based M2M solution

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - IoTEE (Internet of Things Everywhere on Earth: a satellite based M2M solution)

Reporting period: 2018-02-01 to 2019-01-31

Terrestrial IoT solutions (e.g. LTE or LPWAN) are cost-efficient on the device side (a low cost connectivity module can easily be integrated in any device) but is expensive on the network side (a large number of Base Transceiver Stations supporting antennas and backhaul connectivity is required). Therefore, terrestrial IoT will be primarily rolled out in the most densely populated areas, and this will limit IoT services adoption outside Smart Cities, particularly for those Industrial IoT applications (Industry 4.0) requiring large coverage areas or global seamless connectivity.
Space IoT solutions have the potential to bridge this coverage/adoption gap. However, although it is cost effective on the network side (as one satellite can cover large geographical areas), it remains expensive on the device side. Satellite communications are traditionally oriented around high-bandwidth voice and data connections which require high transmit power, so there are few chipsets and devices operating at low data rates with long battery autonomy (>6 yrs). Personal Navigation Devices (based on GPS or Glonass) use simple data formats and provide only Position Navigation and Timing (PNT) data. Existing space IoT solutions work best with relatively large and costly terminals with very limited power autonomy aggregating local IoT networks.
Space IoT has the potential to compete with terrestrial IoT in terms of cost, size and energy autonomy if it can develop an appropriate communications standard and truly autonomous small mobile sensors capable of communications via satellite. Based on market research (Northern Sky estimates a €2Bn market for 2.75M Space IoT enabled devices by 2022), the consortium has identified a large opportunity for a European space based solution for LPWA (Low Power Wide Area).
To address this opportunity, the space technology transfer venture S4M was formed in 2014 to develop a novel technology platform, network and architecture for Space IoT called TELDASAT . TELDASAT leverages existing and planned European space technology infrastructure (such as the German Space Operations Center at DLR) and expertise to create a new approach to space IoT benefiting from an exclusive access to space and a distinct “first to market” advantage. This project seeks to develop the IoTEE sensor device, supporting any type of data that can be gathered and transported via the S4M short data messaging system: temperature, pressure, vibration, open/closed, leak indication, broken alarm, km counting, position, speed, among others.
The project will enable a space-based solution to fill the IoT coverage/adoption gap, providing a unique opportunity for Europe to accelerate its IoT deployment, particularly in areas outside the “Smart City War” where most terrestrial IoT development is currently concentrated. The project will therefore enable accelerated IoT adoption across many key sectors – such as energy, transportation, security, agriculture, environment, and industrial automation – generating broad business and societal impacts. The project complements the Smart Cities approach with a “Smart Countryside”, addressing key EU societal challenges across sustainability, transportation, pollution reduction and climate change risk mitigation.
All Work Packages have started as planned. Two amendments have been proposed and accepted by the Commission during Year 1, followed by a further amendment (AMD-738483-10) in Year 2; this amendment was a consequence of the unilateral postponement of the TELDASAT payload launch of SAT4M2M which will be – in its outer part – fixed on the Bartolomeo Platform, managed and developed by Airbus, from SpaxeX-18 to SpaceX-19; the electronic control unit “SDR” will be placed inside the Columbus module during the same launch. This launch delay, due to ESA (NASA)’s undisclosed internal decision, from SpaceX-18 flight campaign to SpaceX-19 flight campaign, without any argumentation nor premonition, was eventually caused by the launch failure of Soyuz MS-10 on October 11th, 2018. However, this was never confirmed or debated.
As the operation of the space borne TELDASAT payload was always a necessary condition to adapt and finalize the developments – including the change in the Tx frequency – and to pro-vide the development goal – the ASIC –, the a.m. amendment was elaborated and proposed in consultation with the relevant Project Officer to EASME, mainly requiring an extension of the project runtime until end of 2019.
However, this mandatory amendment was rejected. In consequence, the IoTEE project could not be finalized and had to be aborted before reaching the intended results. Even more critical is the fact that the unforeseeable rejection of the amendment led to an asynchronous outflow of funds, as various contracts had to be stopped, although these contracts would have provided large contributions to the own financing by pre-orders of chipsets / ASIC’s already at the stage of the project.
In order to fulfil the project management’s requests, all AMD 10-adapted deliverables with a project end of 12/2019 – see table 1 – were submitted to EASME in accordance to an updated schedule by the end of April 2019. However, based on the rejection of the amendment, most of these did not provide end-results but rather an intermediate status.
The IoTEE receiver/emitter device is the key enabler of the TELDASAT Space IoT solution:
• low energy consumption and a miniaturised design, enabling high autonomy and easy integration
• backwards compatibility respective interoperability with existing and planned terrestrial and spaceborne systems, enabling integration into maximum variety of sensor systems as a standard telematics systems, leading to increased market impact, and decreased time to deployment and commercial risk
• novel Low-Power (Ultra) Wide Area Network protocol (LP(U)WAN), enabling extension of LPWAN protocol over satellite links using unique approaches for advanced security and network agility.

The anticipated IoTEE project results do not address one single aspect of societal challenges – rather they enable a space-based approach essential for a rapid rollout of IoT connectivity that doesn’t exist today, particularly outside cities, and thus acting as a catalyst to accelerate the introduction of the advantages of IoT in multiple application areas otherwise dependent on waiting many years for terrestrial coverage to catch up (if at all), or for other space-based services to come on the market later or sooner.
As well as the interfaces with S4M’s TELDASAT project IoTEE contributes to other projects and initiatives, both from ESA and within the IoT community including the EC initiative Alliance for the Internet of Things Innovation (AIOTI).
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