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26 February 2010 Experimental demonstration of a retro-reflective laser communication link on a mobile platform
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Successful pointing, acquisition, and tracking (PAT) are crucial for the implementation of laser communication links between ground and aerial vehicles. This technology has advantages over the traditional radio frequency communication, thus justifying the research efforts presented in this paper. The authors have been successful in the development of a high precision, agile, digitally controlled two-degree-of-freedom electromechanical system for positioning of optical instruments, cameras, telescopes, and communication lasers. The centerpiece of this system is a robotic manipulator capable of singularity-free operation throughout the full hemisphere range of yaw/pitch motion. The availability of efficient two-degree-of-freedom positioning facilitated the development of an optical platform stabilization system capable of rejecting resident vibrations with the angular and frequency range consistent with those caused by a ground vehicle moving on a rough terrain. This technology is being utilized for the development of a duplex mobile PAT system demonstrator that would provide valuable feedback for the development of practical laser communication systems intended for fleets of moving ground, and possibly aerial, vehicles. In this paper, a tracking system providing optical connectivity between stationary and mobile ground platforms is described. It utilizes mechanical manipulator to perform optical platform stabilization and initial beam positioning, and optical tracking for maintaining the line-of-sight communication. Particular system components and the challenges of their integration are described. The results of field testing of the resultant system under practical conditions are presented.
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Vladimir V. Nikulin, John E. Malowicki, Rahul M. Khandekar, Victor A. Skormin, and David J. Legare "Experimental demonstration of a retro-reflective laser communication link on a mobile platform", Proc. SPIE 7587, Free-Space Laser Communication Technologies XXII, 75870F (26 February 2010);

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