In traditional hardwired avionics systems, sensor integration requires installation of literally tons of physical cable that significantly increases vehicle weight and the time it takes to develop, maintain, and modify systems. Cabling also consumes space available for profitable payloads. Armstrong's technology uses software to incorporate new wireless capability without physically modifying existing avionics.
Armstrong's gateway uses a software-defined radio (SDR) to control the flow of information among various wireless devices and a vehicle's avionics. An SDR can be reprogrammed to communicate with a variety of wireless communication protocols and frequencies via straightforward software modules — as opposed to wireless sensor-specific hardware — effectively eliminating the need to modify a vehicle's existing avionics hardware architecture.
The gateway employs publish-subscribe network architecture. Before takeoff, flight computers request — or subscribe to — specific pieces of information from the SDR gateway. Wireless sensor devices then provide their respective sensor measurements to the SDR gateway, where they are distributed — or published — to any flight computer that has subscribed to a specific measurement.
Armstrong's technology simplifies the process of designing wireless avionics networks by providing a single point of communication between wireless and wired systems. It functions as a layer of abstraction between wireless sensors and the system with which they interface. This approach also ensures that no wireless device can directly communicate with a flight computer unless subscribed prior to takeoff, thus protecting the system from malicious or errant transmissions.
Although specifically designed for aerospace systems, the gateway is both platform- and implementation-agnostic, with the potential to foster convergence between wireless technologies and existing systems in other industries. A manufacturer can add industrial Internet of Things capability without having to integrate new wireless interfaces into its pre-existing network.
The gateway serves as a universal interface with virtually any wireless device for such applications as connected logistics, predictive maintenance, asset tracking, and much more.
NASA is actively seeking licensees to commercialize this technology. Please contact the NASA Armstrong Technology Transfer Office at 661-276-3368 or