QinetiQ launches Iridium satellite-based global asset tracking solution

11 Sep 2007

QinetiQ has developed the Mobile Asset Information Acquisition (MAIA) system to provide a secure, end-to-end, asset tracking capability, and is launching it on its stand 641 at DSEi.

Based on Global Positioning Systems (GPS) tracking technology, it delivers a highly flexible, worldwide service on multiple assets to single or multiple terminals. It is also the first solution in this sector to be announced following QinetiQ becoming a Value Added Developer (VAD) for Iridium’s satellite communications infrastructure earlier this summer.

“The availability of up-to-date, accurate and secure asset position information, allows users to rapidly react to changing operational, environmental or political circumstances,” explained Richard Davis, MD for QinetiQ’s communications business. “We plan to develop and introduce a suite of Iridium-based secure beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) communications products for military and civil applications, where the protection of voice and data communications is an operational imperative.”

MAIA comprises three core elements, each developed from Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) based equipment to offer a low cost of purchase and ownership: a small, lightweight mobile unit which requires minimal platform integration; secure connectivity to provide end-to-end protection against unauthorised data access; and advanced ground terminal and mapping display software that runs on standard PCs to display asset positions using customisable mapping software.

Unlike conventional systems which require lengthy and expensive integration and testing, the MAIA equipment is easily secured to the platform body via straps. No direct electrical connections to the host platform are required, with the unit powered via an internal rechargeable battery pack. A single antenna, included in the MAIA system, is then simply secured to the inside of a suitable window via a suction pad, to provide clear sky visibility for the in built GPS and communications systems. Once fitted, the MAIA system is fully autonomous with no operator intervention required.

The protection of sensitive asset information is imperative for many users. Using QinetiQ’s extensive security expertise, developed from many years of supplying highly secure systems to MOD and Government users, the MAIA system provides end-to-end protection against unauthorised data access. Source data is encrypted using Advanced Encryption Standard (AES256) in the Mobile Unit, before being sent securely over the Iridium network and the Internet.

“As a leading international defence and security technology business, QinetiQ has an impressive track record in integrating a range of COTS technologies into military platforms. This new partnership marks an important leap forward in strengthening Iridium’s position as a major supplier of mobile satellite solutions in the international defence arena,” said Greg Ewert, executive vice president for Iridium. “We have a well-established relationship with the US DOD, and increasingly, international defence forces are discovering Iridium’s unique value proposition of global gap-free coverage, secure and reliable voice and data communications, low latency, and high network reliability. Iridium serves as an attractive adjunct to normal tactical radio communications and provides worldwide asset tracking and management capabilities for deployed mobile platforms.”

Iridium established its VAD programme in 2005 to create relationships with companies that have a particular technical expertise or capability to develop new products or solutions using the Iridium satellite network. Its full portfolio of global partners numbers 150 strong with hundreds of unique products represented on the Iridium network.

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QinetiQ launches Iridium satellite-based global asset tracking solution