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The testing of novel future generation communication systems, next-generation wireless communication and electronically steerable antennae were just three initiatives honoured at the annual National Instruments UK & Ireland Graphical System Design Achievement Awards, which celebrated engineering applications that have demonstrated groundbreaking solutions to some of the world’s most demanding engineering challenges.
Held on 19 November at The Royal Academy of Engineering, London, in the presence of Jeff Kodosky, National Instruments Co-founder and ‘Father of LabVIEW, NI’s awards recognised innovation and engineering excellence in the UK and Ireland. Awards were presented in seven categories: Advanced Control Systems, Education, Energy, Life Science, RF and Communications, Test & Measurement and Transport.
The winner of the RF & Communications Award was: Wireless Testbed Solution for Testing of Novel Future Generation Communications Systems by Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, which addressed the challenge of testing a wide range of 4G and beyond fourth generation (B4G) communications systems. The technologies tested include: MIMO, LTE, spatial modulation (SM) with supporting channel measurements, OFDM and channel emulation. The solution used NI PXI hardware and NI LabVIEW software to develop a suite of programmes to define each system model.
The runner-up in the section was: Building a Next-Generation Test System for Next-Generation Wireless Communication by Imperial College, London. Here, the challenge was to verify and test algorithms for next-generation wireless communication systems in real-world radio conditions. This was achieved by creating a rapid prototyping platform powered by NI LabView software and built with NI PXI RF and FPGA modules for flexibility and reconfigurability in addition to real-time radio system emulation.
In the Test and Measurement section the winner was: High Throughput Testing of Phasor Solution’s Revolutionary Electronically Steerable Antennae. Due to limitations in existing satellite communications antennae, vehicles ranging from military aircraft to commuter trains rarely provide adequate communications facilities. Phasor Solutions developed an electronically steerable antenna to solve this need and are now challenged with producing and testing a large volume of these antennae.
Using NI LabVIEW software, NI TestStand software, and PXI, the company developed a testing strategy to meet both the short-term characterisation and full-production volume needs for testing the semiconductors. The system designs and tests a high volume of Phased Array Satellite Antennae, bringing quality digital communications to a variety of moving vehicles, regardless of location and speed.
During the Award Evening key presentations were made including, The Application of the Year Award, which was won by the winner of the Advanced Control Systems category; author Pawel Majecki, from Industrial Systems and Control (ISC) for his case study entitled Controlling 70-Ton Gripper Arms for Offshore Wind Turbines. The Special Recognition Award went to Leeds University for: Graphical System Design in the Classroom, while the Student Design Award was for: Artemis, Autonomous Robotic Technology Enabling Minimally Invasive Surgery by The University of Manchester and The University of Leeds.