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Content archived on 2024-05-21

NETwork of Stratospheric Platforms for Traffic Monitoring, Environmental Surveillance and Broadband Services


The HeliNet project aims at designing an integrated network based on HALE (High Altitude Long Endurance) unmanned solar platforms. The main features of this infrastructure are its reconfigurability, flexibility, quick deployment, zero environmental and human impact. The HeliNet permits the exploitation of the stratospheric segment, and is suitable for several cost effective and interoperable applications in various strategic fields such as localisation, environmental surveillance, provision of telecommunication services. The project addresses all aspects of the HeliNet design. A stratospheric aerodynamic HALE platform, named HELIPLAT, is designed (included the solar and fuel cell energy subsystem), and a scaled size prototype is manufactured in order to perform static tests. The network design is carried out, considering various geographical coverage areas; a common communication interface is addressed, in order to guarantee the flexibility of HeliNet as for possible applications. Finally, the study of 3 pilot applications is performed, in the fields of localisation (including the possible integration with the Galileo system), environmental data processing and transmission, provision of broadband services. The project is carried out by a transnational and multi-sectoral partnership of research departments at universities and companies.

The objective of the HeliNet project is to create an integrated infrastructure based on HALE unmanned aerodynamic solar platforms. HeliNet contributes to ensure Europe a full role in the economic exploitation of the stratospheric segment and in the development of standards for the related applications. It contributes to EC scientific and technological development through the know-how, which is going to be acquired during the project; it also benefits EC social objectives through the developed applications, as well as EC innovation and added value.

The project objective is to address all the design aspects, namely:
a) Design of a HALE platform (HELIPLAT) and manufacturing of a scaled size technological demonstrator, fully representative of the HELIPLAT, to be subject to static tests;
b) study of three pilot applications (Localisation, Environmental data processing and transmission, Broadband services). Key features of the project are: reduced cost with respect to satellite systems, with consequent possible revenues from third countries - flexibility (easily reprogrammed in case of emergency), no atmospheric and electromagnetic pollution, and development of innovative technologies.

Work description:
The HeliNet project is intended to show the feasibility of a stratospheric network with the characteristics described above. Three main tasks are considered:
1) The design of the HELIPLAT is addressed, including wing and tail areas and spans, electric power, engine and propeller efficiency, solar cells, fuel cells and electrolyse efficiency and mass, total mass, operations and safety requirements. All structural aspects are studied, such as the design of low-weight advanced composite primary structures, leading to the complete platform CAM layout. Manufacturing and test of critical components, realisation of a scaled size demonstrator fully representative of the HELIPLAT and static tests are performed. As for the avionics, the TT&C Subsystem units are defined. The link budget is evaluated for the nominal attitude and for the acquisition phase;
2) The design of the telecommunication network topology, architecture, protocols, and common communication core interface (CCCI) towards the applications is performed;
3) A system of vehicle localisation based on GPS/GNSS/Galileo is integrated in a general HeliNet-based transmission system. As the system does not demand a terrestrial infrastructure it is particularly tailored for applications such as emergency, failure or lack of terrestrial structures, and critical morphology of the territory. The feasibility of HeliNet integration within GPS/GNSS2 is studied. Semi-passive (DOA) positioning systems are developed as a backup for GPS/GNSS2. Algorithms for on- board processing of environmental data exploiting the particular features of stratospheric platforms are studied and ported on a suitable optical payload for tests. The provision of broadband services based on HeliNet is analysed, and the design of critical parts is addressed.

- Aerodynamic and structural design of the HELIPLAT;
- Energy subsystem: solar and fuel cell, control unit;
- Avionics subsystem definition;
- Manufacturing of scaled size technological demonstrator and static tests;
- Design of the HeliNet topology, architecture, protocols, and CCCI;
- Pilot application: localisation based on GPS/GNSS/ Galileo and integration of HeliNet with Galileo;
- Pilot application: algorithms for on board processing of environmental data;
- Pilot application: provision of broadband services based on HeliNet and design of critical parts.

Call for proposal

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Corso Duca Degli Abruzzi, 24
10129 TORINO

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Participants (9)