GE Intelligent Platforms has released the standalone, application-ready daq8580 rugged streaming network appliance, accordingly in response to the growing requirement for unmanned vehicles to capture, process and transmit increasing quantities of video information at increasing resolutions.
GE said it released the daq8580 to further extend its growing range of COTS Rugged Systems (CRS) that are designed to provide ready-to-run solutions that minimize both NRE (Non Recurring Engineering) expense and time to market, alongside the release of MIP3ES Miniature Image Stabilizer that minimizes size, weight and power (SWaP) consumption for various applications.
The first customer for the daq8580 is the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center (DFRC), working in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The daq8580 will be installed onboard the Northrop Grumman Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle, which is being deployed to conduct unprecedented atmospheric research.
The daq8580 video compression platform will ingest high bandwidth, high resolution video streams from Global Hawk’s on-board sensors and compress the data by factors as much as 100:1. The reduced bandwidth video feed can then be transmitted over the communication link to the ground station for observation and analysis with negligible impact on image quality.
With dimensions of just 10.1” long by 7.3” deep, weighing only 5lbs and consuming only 25 watts of power, the daq8580 fits to be deployed in environments that are constrained in size, weight and power (SWaP).
“This is particularly significant for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) where increased weight means increased fuel consumption – and reduced mission durations,” GE said.
Similarly, the rugged nature of the daq8580 means that it is highly resistant to the shock, vibration and other hostile characteristics typical of deployment in an unmanned vehicle. Its 28V power supply is designed to meet MIL-STD-704E and MIL-STD-1275B demands for aircraft as well as ground vehicle operations.
The daq8580 can acquire two parallel streams of HD (1,920 x 1,080) at 30 frames/second or up to four channels of standard definition (SD) video. It can also support DVI or VGA modes up to 2,048 X 2,048 pixels.
It then processes these streams using an Altera Arria II GX FPGA combined with Texas Instruments media processors. The video streams are encoded to the H.264 industry standard prior to transmission, ensuring the optimum trade-off between image quality and required bandwidth.
“UAVs are being tasked with acquiring increased levels of video information through the use of HD optics to support improved pilot information as well as improved surveillance information.,” said Dan Veenstra, Product Manager, GE Intelligent Platforms.
“Existing UAVs are having the optics upgraded and new UAVs are being fitted with HD optics. We have designed the daq8580 to support a wide range of legacy video inputs as well as the latest HD video inputs, and its performance relative to its size and weight sets new standards for the industry.”
High-speed ADC devices provide input digitization of the various supported analog video formats. The embedded Altera FPGA controls data capture and routing and can be used for a variety of image processing tasks.
The TI DSP co-processors provide efficient and streamlined video data processing. When necessary, the daq8580 can be loaded with custom FPGA and DSP code to perform a broad range of video processing functions on the video input streams.