Aerospace Ground Equipment (AGE) Sensors

Air Logistics and Engineering (ALAE) Solutions has been awarded a Phase II SBIR contract supporting AFMC’s 402nd AMXG Team at WR-ALC to develop a cost-effective, reliable, and upgradable innovation to the existing Real-Time Location System (RTLS) currently used, improving location detection range and accuracy.

Aircraft depot maintenance requires 100% availability of an array of powered and non-powered mobile Aircraft Ground Support Equipment (AGE). Therefore, knowing the location across the flight line and industrial maintenance area is critical.

Finding and integrating a sensor technology that is low cost/weight/power, operates long range, and integrates well with the existing AF equipment tracking system will lead to improved AGE tracking and maintenance for the Air Logistics Complex.

Innovative technologies, including environmental sensors and power-saving algorithms, can be added to modern RF technologies to improve performance and use cases in a Real-Time Location System (RTLS).

Our engineers and research partners have experience with RF and Antennas for wireless communications, propagation modeling, prior design experience for DoD location sensor products, Army Soldier PLI-I Beacons, NOAA Drifters, DARPA Ocean Floats, and Ad-Hoc UAV Networks.

We also have designed a small antenna near the theoretical limits for Bandwidth Efficiency.  These past experiences, along with our testing and system integration capabilities, will prove critical to the success of this AF Innovative Research topic.

During Phase I, ALAE Solutions demonstrated a proof-of-concept sensor with improved location detection range and accuracy. We researched and selected an RF tracking technology suitable for DoD installations. We completed feasibility studies into the range and suitability for the client’s use case. We developed an RF simulation as a digital twin (DT) to optimize antenna placement and conducted market research toward potential end-users and other DoD gap needs. New RFID technologies were demonstrated to track assets over the entire flight line with minimal infrastructure. A prototype plan was identified and confirmed with AMXG sponsors and stakeholders for several receivers and tags to be deployed and evaluated in an operational scenario in a Phase II effort.

During Phase II, ALAE Solutions is developing a cost-effective, reliable, and upgradable innovation to the existing Real-Time Location System (RTLS.) Our goal is to provide near 100% AGE availability and eliminate the issues currently faced with the RFID tag technology: limited range insufficient for AGE at USAF, assets not being tracked accurately, missed inspection and maintenance intervals, and difficulty locating equipment. Our new technology development will eliminate vendor lock while increasing user reliance on the system.

Beyond the new tag technology being prototyped in Phase II, our proposed research will facilitate the new technology’s introduction into a government-controlled environment by reducing cybersecurity risk and preparing for a Cloud 1 deployment.