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GSatTrack Feature Highlight: Flexible I/O System

GSE - Tue, 2017-12-12 16:30

General purpose input/output (GPIO) is a common feature across many models of tracking hardware. GPIOs allow users to decide how the physical ports or pins on a device are used. For example, a pin may be wired up to monitor the current voltage of a battery or that same pin may be wired to a switch to turn on or off another piece of equipment. Since every application has different requirements, it is important to choose devices that are flexible in their support for monitoring and controlling inputs and outputs.

Because there are so many configurations and applications possible when using GPIOs, it is equally important to use a tracking portal that can support these flexible configurations to bring as much value as possible to your portal operators. GSatTrack has been built with such systems in mind – offering support for hundreds of devices and their differing input/output systems without requiring additional engineering time.

Let’s use one of the more flexible input/output devices as an example: the Orbcomm IDP-782. This particular device supports 4 user-configurable analog/digital inputs/outputs (GPIOs) as well as 2 dedicated digital outputs, 3 serial interfaces, a CAN-bus interface, and 1-wire support. Managing all of these options can sound overwhelming, but GSatTrack makes it easy.

First, you may need to configure the GPIOs for your particular application. For the IDP-782 this is done via the Send Command menu option. All options are available for customization to your wired setup and purpose:

Once your device is setup and is reporting its inputs to the tracking portal, you can then further customize the interface so that these generic values make sense to your end-users. You can assign names and behaviors to the inputs/outputs via the I/O configuration that each device with any kind of input or output has available via Edit Asset > I/O. You can also apply these customizable configurations across groups of assets easily via the templating system – allowing you to manage many discrete devices and their configurations with minimal effort.

Once assigned, a user then sees and interacts with those user-friendly labels instead of having to remember how inputs and outputs are wired by their number alone.
Compare the same report with I/O information as generic values against one with its values mapped to its specific, user-configured purpose:

Programmable outputs are equally well-served with user-customized configurations and values, allowing portal operators to quickly toggle device functions without any prior knowledge of the device or its configuration.

Through the use of flexible devices and GSatTrack, you can support practically any configuration that integrates additional inputs or outputs in a manner that appears seamless to portal operators and users.

MCG-101 for Positive Train Control regulations

GSE - Thu, 2017-12-07 02:48

The Satcom M2M industry offers many reliable solutions that can help improve safety on railroads to all trains, anywhere tracks run. In addition, Satcom solutions offer delivery of additional information about locomotives including diagnostics, engine information, brake times, signaling as well as many other onboard systems.

About the MCG-101

The MCG-101 was designed to provide the most powerful and versatile Iridium communications system to remote locations, aircraft, maritime or mobile offices. The system provides an intelligent solution using the Iridium satellite network to operate as a telephone, internet gateway, intelligent GPS device, send/receive SMS, and attach to other devices through RS232 and ethernet to provide access to remote hosts via internet.



The Customer Situation

With the new mandate that all rail operations meet federal guidelines for secondary communication and positive train control, rail companies are moving quickly to find solutions that will meet government requirements while allowing for greater understanding of their operations. This requires rail operators to work side by side with experienced partners familiar with modern communication networks and IOT solutions to deliver hardware that will meet government regulations. With a little over a year before the government mandate becomes a requirement the rail companies need to work fast to find a solution.



The Challenge

There are handful of solutions providers who specialize in rail and provide positive train control using radio technology which has been the mainstay of rail communication for over a century. Most of these providers are software developers or technology companies specializing in logistics but not telecommunication networks or hardware. This means these companies by themselves fall short of the solutions mandated by the government. To meet all requirements rail operators need communication hardware and IOT devices capable of operating even when radio is not available. This hardware should also work in tandem with positive rail control whenever possible. To achieve these goals the rail operators would need help from professionals who had proven experience in providing hardware across a host of industries and networks.



The Solution

Global Satellite Engineering at its’ core is an engineering firm that consistently looks at hardware already in the field or developing their own hardware whenever necessary to achieve customer needs. Our rail clients immediately need hardware that will operate well as a backup means of communication on a network that mirrored the size and availability of radio networks already in place. The device would also have to have additional capabilities to work with positive train control systems and allow for telemetry data to be gathered and transmitted at the client's request.

The best hardware for this application is the MCG-101 developed by GSE. The MCG-101 working on the Iridium satellite constellation met the secondary communication requirement of the rail operations by providing a solution that works just like radio with the exception that the communication service offered by Iridium Satellite Network is available anywhere in the world. The MCG-101 unit comes standard with a traditional handset for voice communication but also allows users to connect via digital interface to access the voice communication service or interact with the unit directly utilizing Wi-Fi. The MCG-101 also employs ASIC echo cancellation for improved audio call quality. This offers rail operators improved clarity over the older radio handsets the rail company may be accustomed to using.

The second requirement of this mandate was the ability to provide positive train control. While the MCG-101 does not specifically allow for this to occur the linux capabilities and ability to deliver data over a host of connection ports mean the MCG-101 can work with technologies developed by solutions providers who do provide positive train control. They can even further their own operations by tapping into the intelligence of this device accessing tracking information and through sensors and additional peripherals like CANBUS technology offering insight into maintenance and day to day operations of a locomotive for the rail company.



The Result

Working with rail companies in the United States and their positive train control service providers, GSE is able to offer hardware that will help the rail companies meet the new government mandate requirement. By the using the MCG-101, the rail operators can now speak with dispatch across the Iridium Satellite network on clearer connections that operate further than traditional radio and continue to work even when emergencies and natural disasters affect the ability of radio to operate normally.

The service providers are also able to tap into the data services provisioned through the MCG-101 units. This allows the rail operators to utilize internet-over-satellite and stay on top of new information transmitted from other offices or dispatch while also transmitting important telematics data from the locomotives themselves. This results directly in lowering operational cost and limiting potential safety issues that might arise from faults aboard locomotives. Finally, the tracking ability of the MCG-101 units allow both the service providers of positive train control and dispatch to understand where their locomotives are and even understand potential delivery and departure times.

What began as a mandate to improve communications and implement further safety procedures allows rail operators to attain a complete communications and telemetry solution that works hand in hand with technology from multiple sources. The MCG-101 solution now provides the means for the rail operators to communicate and work closer in way that is more meaningful for all involved.

Feature Highlight: GSatTrack - Two-Factor Authentication

GSE - Wed, 2017-10-18 10:53

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is an enhanced method of securing your account with GSatTrack. Once configured and enabled, two forms of identification are then required to log into your account:

  1. Your password
  2. A trusted device

Requiring two different forms of identification – something you know and something in your possession – increases the security of your account, dramatically reducing the chances of an unauthorized party accessing it. In this case, the trusted device is a mobile phone with an app that is generating a constantly-cycling, six-digit verification code that is unique to your specific account. This form of 2FA has become increasingly popular and you may be familiar with it when securely accessing your email or banking accounts.

Setting up 2FA in GSatTrack

To enable two-factor authentication for your account, visit the My profile page once you’ve logged in. Under the Security section is the option for enhanced authentication:

Recovery Codes

Once you’ve decided to enable 2FA you’ll first be presented with some automatically generated recovery codes. These recovery codes will cover the scenario where you might not have access to your trusted device (perhaps it was lost or damaged) and still need to be able to log into your account. Recovery codes should be treated like passwords; store them securely and privately as you will be unable to recover your account without them in the event your trusted device is lost. Should you need to use them, simply enter one instead of the Verification Code when prompted. Note that they are one-time use passwords only; you will not be able to continue to login with them once used.

Enabling 2FA

Once you’ve stored your recovery codes you can then enable 2FA either by scanning the QR code shown on the following page from within your authentication app or by manually entering in the text code instead. The rolling, six-digit code should then be presented to you from within your 2FA app and you can enter it in the confirmation box to verify that GSatTrack and your 2FA app are properly synchronized.

Once confirmed, two-factor authentication will then be enabled for your account. The next time you log into your account you’ll then be presented with the 2FA verification screen:

"Note that for 2FA to work properly the time set on your trusted device must be accurate."

Feature Highlight: GSatTrack - Two-Factor Authentication

GSE - Wed, 2017-10-18 10:53

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is an enhanced method of securing your account with GSatTrack. Once configured and enabled, two forms of identification are then required to log into your account:

  1. Your password
  2. A trusted device

Requiring two different forms of identification – something you know and something in your possession – increases the security of your account, dramatically reducing the chances of an unauthorized party accessing it. In this case, the trusted device is a mobile phone with an app that is generating a constantly-cycling, six-digit verification code that is unique to your specific account. This form of 2FA has become increasingly popular and you may be familiar with it when securely accessing your email or banking accounts.

Setting up 2FA in GSatTrack

To enable two-factor authentication for your account, visit the My profile page once you’ve logged in. Under the Security section is the option for enhanced authentication:

Recovery Codes

Once you’ve decided to enable 2FA you’ll first be presented with some automatically generated recovery codes. These recovery codes will cover the scenario where you might not have access to your trusted device (perhaps it was lost or damaged) and still need to be able to log into your account. Recovery codes should be treated like passwords; store them securely and privately as you will be unable to recover your account without them in the event your trusted device is lost. Should you need to use them, simply enter one instead of the Verification Code when prompted. Note that they are one-time use passwords only; you will not be able to continue to login with them once used.

Enabling 2FA

Once you’ve stored your recovery codes you can then enable 2FA either by scanning the QR code shown on the following page from within your authentication app or by manually entering in the text code instead. The rolling, six-digit code should then be presented to you from within your 2FA app and you can enter it in the confirmation box to verify that GSatTrack and your 2FA app are properly synchronized.

Once confirmed, two-factor authentication will then be enabled for your account. The next time you log into your account you’ll then be presented with the 2FA verification screen:

"Note that for 2FA to work properly the time set on your trusted device must be accurate."

Unleash your Imagination - Find out how to satellite enable your project

GSE - Mon, 2017-10-02 12:09

Global Satellite Engineering (GSE) creates innovative hardware and software for the satellite communications industry designed to unleash your imagination and give you the ability to solve unique challenges and/or create new opportunities.

Imagine the possibilities when you integrate the smallest, smartest, lightest, scriptable Iridium-based terminal into your project initiatives that require low-bandwidth data connectivity!

The GSatMicro OEM is a fully programmable and customizable Iridium-based communications terminal allowing the creation and modification of scripts to expose custom behaviors and transmit data in a format dictated by your unique requirements. The GSatMicro OEM is the core building block for providing an encrypted, secure, communications channel available anywhere on the globe for both transmitting and receiving data whether on land, in the air, or at sea.

Imagine the possibilities when you are able to perform real-time analysis of data captured out in the field, control other hardware, sensors, or electromechanical components, and so many other vital tasks. Imagine the cost savings to perform critical tasks remotely instead of sending someone on location.

Only a few millimeters thick, the GSatMicro OEM board is equipped with an eLua powered processing engine, Bluetooth module, accelerometer, magnetic compass, I/O ports, GPS Chip and antenna port. This thin yet powerful board is stacked onto the Iridium 9602 modem, Iridium’s next-generation SBD transceiver. Having this robust virtual machine on board the device allows real-time processing of scripts by compiling and executing without any external tools - allowing communication between any and all of the built-in interfaces.

All inclusive, this small “stack” weighs 42.5 grams providing a very small form factor and ease of integration into projects where size, weight, and superior functionality are critical.

Unleash your imagination with this feature rich small form factor design!

GSE’s GSatMicro technology offers you the fundamental basis to create your own unique terminal or integrate into existing IoT installations. The small size and weight gives you ample options to define your own form factors. Having a completely customizable telemetry device with multiple I/O ports, 256-bit AES Encryption, power efficiency, and ability to easily integrate 3rd party devices opens up a world of possibilities!

Project Concepts

Here are some examples of what you can do by embedding components of the GSatMicro OEM:

  • Create wearable intelligent applications - add sensors for unique analytics. Integrate into body worn suits to monitor heartbeat distress or shock
  • Integrated into helmets for location and motion detection
  • Monitor biometric parameters
  • Monitor relaying waypoints
  • Monitor acquisition of mission-critical information in near real-time
  • Integrate with onboard electronics on drones or flying assets for remote command and control
  • Enable critical remote operations such as remote control of valves and parameter monitoring – think of the Oil & Gas environments
  • Track or monitor high value goods or people where power supply is limited – suggested battery performs 800 position reports before the need to recharge the battery
  • Connect an external Solar fixture (where applicable) to the GSatMicro for remote locations or where other access to power supply is unavailable.
  • Integrate into solutions where high position accuracy is a must along with over the air configuration capabilities
  • Wildlife monitoring where weight, dimensions and battery life play a critical role
Case Studies

Here are a few case studies demonstrating GSE’s open source Iridium platform technology providing a solution based around the needs and wants of the customer:

NASA: Open source Iridium platform (GSatMicro OEM) meets the needs of the NASA LDSD project: http://www.gsat.us/community/case-study/open-source-iridium-platform-meets-needs-nasa-ldsd-project

Balloon Tracking in the Stratosphere: http://www.gsat.us/community/case-study/balloon-tracking-stratosphere

Solar-powered Iridium Satellite terminal (GSatMicro OEM) brings savings to the Oil & Gas industry: http://www.gsat.us/community/case-study/solar-powered-iridium-satellite-terminal-brings-savings-oil-gas-industry

Contact Us

GSE continues to gain an unprecedented reputation for creating versatile products designed for the rapid changes of today’s technology. GSE also offers direct access to engineers that deliver the latest IoT innovations and satellite technology to help assure you uncover insight on your organization’s strategic opportunities. Discovering the optimal solution for sustainable mission success, within the shortest amount of time and budget, requires decisive knowledge of current technology and how to effectively leverage the technology in your best interest. Let us help you imagine your possibilities. Give us a call today at 954.459.4000 or email us at sales@gsat.us.

Unleash your Imagination - Find out how to satellite enable your project

GSE - Mon, 2017-10-02 12:09

Global Satellite Engineering (GSE) creates innovative hardware and software for the satellite communications industry designed to unleash your imagination and give you the ability to solve unique challenges and/or create new opportunities.

Imagine the possibilities when you integrate the smallest, smartest, lightest, scriptable Iridium-based terminal into your project initiatives that require low-bandwidth data connectivity!

The GSatMicro OEM is a fully programmable and customizable Iridium-based communications terminal allowing the creation and modification of scripts to expose custom behaviors and transmit data in a format dictated by your unique requirements. The GSatMicro OEM is the core building block for providing an encrypted, secure, communications channel available anywhere on the globe for both transmitting and receiving data whether on land, in the air, or at sea.

Imagine the possibilities when you are able to perform real-time analysis of data captured out in the field, control other hardware, sensors, or electromechanical components, and so many other vital tasks. Imagine the cost savings to perform critical tasks remotely instead of sending someone on location.

Only a few millimeters thick, the GSatMicro OEM board is equipped with an eLua powered processing engine, Bluetooth module, accelerometer, magnetic compass, I/O ports, GPS Chip and antenna port. This thin yet powerful board is stacked onto the Iridium 9602 modem, Iridium’s next-generation SBD transceiver. Having this robust virtual machine on board the device allows real-time processing of scripts by compiling and executing without any external tools - allowing communication between any and all of the built-in interfaces.

All inclusive, this small “stack” weighs 42.5 grams providing a very small form factor and ease of integration into projects where size, weight, and superior functionality are critical.

Unleash your imagination with this feature rich small form factor design!

GSE’s GSatMicro technology offers you the fundamental basis to create your own unique terminal or integrate into existing IoT installations. The small size and weight gives you ample options to define your own form factors. Having a completely customizable telemetry device with multiple I/O ports, 256-bit AES Encryption, power efficiency, and ability to easily integrate 3rd party devices opens up a world of possibilities!

Project Concepts

Here are some examples of what you can do by embedding components of the GSatMicro OEM:

  • Create wearable intelligent applications - add sensors for unique analytics. Integrate into body worn suits to monitor heartbeat distress or shock
  • Integrated into helmets for location and motion detection
  • Monitor biometric parameters
  • Monitor relaying waypoints
  • Monitor acquisition of mission-critical information in near real-time
  • Integrate with onboard electronics on drones or flying assets for remote command and control
  • Enable critical remote operations such as remote control of valves and parameter monitoring – think of the Oil & Gas environments
  • Track or monitor high value goods or people where power supply is limited – suggested battery performs 800 position reports before the need to recharge the battery
  • Connect an external Solar fixture (where applicable) to the GSatMicro for remote locations or where other access to power supply is unavailable.
  • Integrate into solutions where high position accuracy is a must along with over the air configuration capabilities
  • Wildlife monitoring where weight, dimensions and battery life play a critical role
Case Studies

Here are a few case studies demonstrating GSE’s open source Iridium platform technology providing a solution based around the needs and wants of the customer:

NASA: Open source Iridium platform (GSatMicro OEM) meets the needs of the NASA LDSD project: http://www.gsat.us/community/case-study/open-source-iridium-platform-meets-needs-nasa-ldsd-project

Balloon Tracking in the Stratosphere: http://www.gsat.us/community/case-study/balloon-tracking-stratosphere

Solar-powered Iridium Satellite terminal (GSatMicro OEM) brings savings to the Oil & Gas industry: http://www.gsat.us/community/case-study/solar-powered-iridium-satellite-terminal-brings-savings-oil-gas-industry

Contact Us

GSE continues to gain an unprecedented reputation for creating versatile products designed for the rapid changes of today’s technology. GSE also offers direct access to engineers that deliver the latest IoT innovations and satellite technology to help assure you uncover insight on your organization’s strategic opportunities. Discovering the optimal solution for sustainable mission success, within the shortest amount of time and budget, requires decisive knowledge of current technology and how to effectively leverage the technology in your best interest. Let us help you imagine your possibilities. Give us a call today at 954.459.4000 or email us at sales@gsat.us.

Hacking Satellite: Autonomous Cars Part 1

GSE - Wed, 2017-09-20 13:21

The topic for this week’s Hacking Satellite blog should come as no surprise, as I announced it as a topic we would be covering this year, and, as if by some form of prophecy and relevance wizardry, news broke last week that Lyft would begin testing autonomous vehicles in San Francisco. Lyft is not the first to offer a self-driving ride system, as Uber launched pilot programs in Tempe and Pittsburgh, but Lyft is the first to offer a program in San Francisco, which is typically the bellwether for tech that will be everywhere within a year, given a successful test. Autonomous cars being “the future of transportation in America” ended a little over 2 years ago, and it is safe to say that 2018 will be the last year for early movers to establish themselves.

The introduction of autonomous vehicles will drive trillions of dollars worth of business and innovation over the next 5 years alone. If that figure seems lofty, consider the fact that the global revenue for smartphone sales in 2017 is already estimated to be $470B, and that doesn’t include revenues from apps or revenues from mobile carrier plan contracts. The trillions of dollars worth of revenues, however, present as an amalgamation of cannibalized revenues (direct relationship to loss of sales in other categories), recapture revenues (direct relationship to increase of sales in other categories), and new revenues (completely unrelated to other categories). One thing is absolutely certain, and that is that business as usual simply cannot be a company’s plan between 2018-2024, or that company will be fighting to survive by 2028, regardless of their direct or indirect relationship to autonomous vehicles.

Much like the smartphone revolution, autonomous cars pose business opportunities for infrastructure providers, equipment manufacturers, accessory producers, innovative engineering firms, agencies, and consulting firms, while simultaneously spawning entirely new sectors within the service and support industries. The birth of an ecosystem of this magnitude will also reprioritize investment dollars from private firms as well as governments, meaning companies must begin considering the ways in which these shifts will affect their operations, sales, and product lines. Identifying the opportunities for your company will help you determine which of the 3 types of revenue you stand to capture or lose (see above) and how to adjust your product strategies accordingly.

Opportunities - Infrastructure

Infrastructure development and rollout for autonomous vehicles will occur in two major phases and within two major categories. The first of these phases is almost complete, and it includes the foundation work for viability and use. The second of these phases is that in which most of the non-direct revenues will be generated, and is marked by the move toward optimizing everything for autonomous vehicles. The two major infrastructure categories are physical and digital, as one would expect with a product that is a similar hybrid. Phase 2 physical infrastructure opportunities lie with firms that can help with the development of smarter roadways, fuel/energy sourcing, idling plans, and systems for making it wiser to choose autonomous vehicles to manually-operated counterparts. Late phase 2 physical infrastructure will likely be focused on commercial trucking and public transport, as these will be more difficult to achieve than private passenger. If your company has the ability to pull a chair to the table for any of these solutions, governments and private companies will be sending out RFPs for your services very soon; have your plans in place, and know how you can solve for these needs.

Phase 2 digital infrastructure will support the data ecosystem that will exist between autonomous vehicles and other vehicles, and then between the vehicles and the physical infrastructure mentioned in the previous paragraph, and finally with the equipment, software, service, and support products that will follow. The daily amount of data movement within this ecosystem will rival the daily amount of data exchange on the internet, and there will be plenty of opportunities for companies that can offer storage, networking, data gathering devices or software (road conditions, traffic, logistical algorithms, etc), and a multitude of other data-related products and services to optimize autonomous vehicle efficiency.

Opportunities - Service and Support

With the introduction of a new product, there is almost always a subsequent need for service and support, which so many companies are willing and ready to provide. This can manifest in the form of insurance, maintenance, repair, accessories, and enhancements. Customization, personalization, and commercialization, along with a number of “otherations” will surely follow the popularization of autonomous vehicles. For the satellite industry in particular, there will be bountiful opportunities to outfit vehicles with tracking services, recording devices that can transform the cars into mobile content creation engines, and much more.

For the most part, the Service and Support sector will be the source of most recapture revenues created by autonomous vehicles at first, as most companies will be able to leverage their expertise to create new products or service offerings that cater to the needs of the companies or individuals investing in the actual vehicles. The next installment of Hacking Satellite will delve more deeply into the implications that autonomous vehicles ought to have on product roadmaps within the satellite industry, which will be a better way to explore the opportunities available to support and complimentary service providers.

Opportunities - Changing Business Models

Another expansion of the industry one can expect from the autonomous vehicle boom is growth related to business services and customer satisfaction capabilities. More companies will be expected to offer better on-demand options, delivery, and mobility as a standard of service, particularly as autonomous vehicles are outfitted with special equipment that transforms them into mobile stores, machines, and tools. The sharing economy and other on-demand purveyors will see an increase in demand because of the reduction in cost associated with no longer needing a vehicle operator, as well as the ability to scale delivery operations in real time, hiring a car only when requested by a consumer.

While the opportunities associated with the vehicles themselves and the companies attempting to leverage their increased capabilities are extensive, it is important to also focus attention on the consumers that will be interacting with these vehicles and their supplementary services. Location tracking for people requesting on-demand products and services will need to improve tremendously, allowing people to make a request, then have the supplier deliver it to them, even if they move. Going into the detailed levels of use cases for B2B and B2C, and then for B2B2C is another segment for the next installment of hacking satellite.

Looking forward

It is certain that each and every company within the satellite industry has the ability to grow as a result of the introduction of autonomous vehicles, particularly because satellite, at its core, is a data industry, and autonomous vehicles, as mentioned, will essentially be introducing a data ecosystem whose size is expected to dwarf that of smartphones. Whether your company is best equipped to capitalize on the data collection piece (equipment, sensors, recording devices, and physical infrastructure) or the data movement piece (software, networking, tracking, and connectivity solutions), it will be imperative to your future success that we are all preparing our product roadmaps to meet the emerging needs of companies and consumers over the next 5-10 years. Until the next article in this series, eyes on those rising tides...

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Hacking Satellite: Autonomous Cars Part 1

GSE - Wed, 2017-09-20 13:21

The topic for this week’s Hacking Satellite blog should come as no surprise, as I announced it as a topic we would be covering this year, and, as if by some form of prophecy and relevance wizardry, news broke last week that Lyft would begin testing autonomous vehicles in San Francisco. Lyft is not the first to offer a self-driving ride system, as Uber launched pilot programs in Tempe and Pittsburgh, but Lyft is the first to offer a program in San Francisco, which is typically the bellwether for tech that will be everywhere within a year, given a successful test. Autonomous cars being “the future of transportation in America” ended a little over 2 years ago, and it is safe to say that 2018 will be the last year for early movers to establish themselves.

The introduction of autonomous vehicles will drive trillions of dollars worth of business and innovation over the next 5 years alone. If that figure seems lofty, consider the fact that the global revenue for smartphone sales in 2017 is already estimated to be $470B, and that doesn’t include revenues from apps or revenues from mobile carrier plan contracts. The trillions of dollars worth of revenues, however, present as an amalgamation of cannibalized revenues (direct relationship to loss of sales in other categories), recapture revenues (direct relationship to increase of sales in other categories), and new revenues (completely unrelated to other categories). One thing is absolutely certain, and that is that business as usual simply cannot be a company’s plan between 2018-2024, or that company will be fighting to survive by 2028, regardless of their direct or indirect relationship to autonomous vehicles.

Much like the smartphone revolution, autonomous cars pose business opportunities for infrastructure providers, equipment manufacturers, accessory producers, innovative engineering firms, agencies, and consulting firms, while simultaneously spawning entirely new sectors within the service and support industries. The birth of an ecosystem of this magnitude will also reprioritize investment dollars from private firms as well as governments, meaning companies must begin considering the ways in which these shifts will affect their operations, sales, and product lines. Identifying the opportunities for your company will help you determine which of the 3 types of revenue you stand to capture or lose (see above) and how to adjust your product strategies accordingly.

Opportunities - Infrastructure

Infrastructure development and rollout for autonomous vehicles will occur in two major phases and within two major categories. The first of these phases is almost complete, and it includes the foundation work for viability and use. The second of these phases is that in which most of the non-direct revenues will be generated, and is marked by the move toward optimizing everything for autonomous vehicles. The two major infrastructure categories are physical and digital, as one would expect with a product that is a similar hybrid. Phase 2 physical infrastructure opportunities lie with firms that can help with the development of smarter roadways, fuel/energy sourcing, idling plans, and systems for making it wiser to choose autonomous vehicles to manually-operated counterparts. Late phase 2 physical infrastructure will likely be focused on commercial trucking and public transport, as these will be more difficult to achieve than private passenger. If your company has the ability to pull a chair to the table for any of these solutions, governments and private companies will be sending out RFPs for your services very soon; have your plans in place, and know how you can solve for these needs.

Phase 2 digital infrastructure will support the data ecosystem that will exist between autonomous vehicles and other vehicles, and then between the vehicles and the physical infrastructure mentioned in the previous paragraph, and finally with the equipment, software, service, and support products that will follow. The daily amount of data movement within this ecosystem will rival the daily amount of data exchange on the internet, and there will be plenty of opportunities for companies that can offer storage, networking, data gathering devices or software (road conditions, traffic, logistical algorithms, etc), and a multitude of other data-related products and services to optimize autonomous vehicle efficiency.

Opportunities - Service and Support

With the introduction of a new product, there is almost always a subsequent need for service and support, which so many companies are willing and ready to provide. This can manifest in the form of insurance, maintenance, repair, accessories, and enhancements. Customization, personalization, and commercialization, along with a number of “otherations” will surely follow the popularization of autonomous vehicles. For the satellite industry in particular, there will be bountiful opportunities to outfit vehicles with tracking services, recording devices that can transform the cars into mobile content creation engines, and much more.

For the most part, the Service and Support sector will be the source of most recapture revenues created by autonomous vehicles at first, as most companies will be able to leverage their expertise to create new products or service offerings that cater to the needs of the companies or individuals investing in the actual vehicles. The next installment of Hacking Satellite will delve more deeply into the implications that autonomous vehicles ought to have on product roadmaps within the satellite industry, which will be a better way to explore the opportunities available to support and complimentary service providers.

Opportunities - Changing Business Models

Another expansion of the industry one can expect from the autonomous vehicle boom is growth related to business services and customer satisfaction capabilities. More companies will be expected to offer better on-demand options, delivery, and mobility as a standard of service, particularly as autonomous vehicles are outfitted with special equipment that transforms them into mobile stores, machines, and tools. The sharing economy and other on-demand purveyors will see an increase in demand because of the reduction in cost associated with no longer needing a vehicle operator, as well as the ability to scale delivery operations in real time, hiring a car only when requested by a consumer.

While the opportunities associated with the vehicles themselves and the companies attempting to leverage their increased capabilities are extensive, it is important to also focus attention on the consumers that will be interacting with these vehicles and their supplementary services. Location tracking for people requesting on-demand products and services will need to improve tremendously, allowing people to make a request, then have the supplier deliver it to them, even if they move. Going into the detailed levels of use cases for B2B and B2C, and then for B2B2C is another segment for the next installment of hacking satellite.

Looking forward

It is certain that each and every company within the satellite industry has the ability to grow as a result of the introduction of autonomous vehicles, particularly because satellite, at its core, is a data industry, and autonomous vehicles, as mentioned, will essentially be introducing a data ecosystem whose size is expected to dwarf that of smartphones. Whether your company is best equipped to capitalize on the data collection piece (equipment, sensors, recording devices, and physical infrastructure) or the data movement piece (software, networking, tracking, and connectivity solutions), it will be imperative to your future success that we are all preparing our product roadmaps to meet the emerging needs of companies and consumers over the next 5-10 years. Until the next article in this series, eyes on those rising tides...

Receive notifications on your Google Calendar for this article

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We understand there are problems that can not be solved by a product-in-a-box. If you have special requirements for your project, please contact us and we will provide you with a custom solution tailor-fit to your needs.