Lacuna Space in new trial of IoT network from 500km up

Lacuna Space in new trial of IoT network from 500km up

03 November 2020 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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UK-based Lacuna Space has successfully tried out its space-borne internet of things (IoT) network, using a new satellite orbiting at 500km.

The satellite (pictured) was launched five weeks ago, on 28 September, said Lacuna, which began life at the European Space Agency (ESA) business incubator centre in Harwell, Oxfordshire.

Lacuna Space CEO Rob Spurrett said the new satellite will boost the Lacuna network capacity and extend customer trials to additional market segments.

“We now have various demonstrations for using our services from wildlife management in remote areas of New Zealand and national parks in Kenya, to managing the environmental impact of construction sites in the UK,” Spurrett said.

The announcement follows just one day after a rival company, Netherlands-based Hiber, set up a satellite-delivered IoT network for the oil and gas industry.

Lacuna Space said that satellites can play an essential role in extending the IoT to remote areas where conventional connectivity is not commercially viable, and power is a scarce resource.

Its sensors use specially adapted low-power wide area network (LPWAN) protocols. They are smaller than the palm of a hand, the company said, and can connect over satellite for several years off a single battery charge. Hiber said yesterday that its sensors have a six-year life.

Spurrett suggested that applications for Lacuna’s network include predictive maintenance and tracking of heavy machinery in remote areas, automating the dispatch of replacement parts, scheduling resources where needed and minimising down time.

ESA head of the telecommunications technologies, Carlo Elia, said: “The ESA telecommunications directorate has supported Lacuna Space since it started in the ESA business incubator centre in Harwell, during which time Lacuna Space has demonstrated the capability of small cubesats to support internet-of-things services.”

Catherine Mealing-Jones, director of growth at the UK Space Agency, said: “Space is a fundamental part of our everyday lives. The UK space sector is leading the way in putting pioneering technologies – from satellite communications to 5G – at the heart of the essential products and services we all rely on.”