Microwave Journal

SAF Tehnika Teams with Electronic Communications Office of Latvia to Develop Complete RF Test and Measurement Drone Solution

July 9, 2021

SAF Tehnika, a global leader in microwave data transmission equipment, announced a collaboration project with the Electronic Communications Office of Latvia (ECO) to develop a complete radio frequency (RF) test and measurement solution mounted on unmanned aerial vehicles (drones). The development of the drone solution will create a more efficient process to address the ever-crowded RF spectrum in a variety of regulatory applications.

The drone solution will include SAF Tehnika’s Spectrum Compact lightweight spectrum analyzer, as well as dedicated software for easy data collection, storage, and analysis. It will help ensure RF spectrum control, which is an integral responsibility of telecommunications regulatory bodies to safeguard a consistent application of the regulatory framework. Additional software developed by mobile innovator LMT will use artificial intelligence (AI) to identify data transmission antennas, and to ensure that UAVs are positioned optimally to collect measurements.

Often, spectrum analyzer weight and size are the main detriments to accurately measure increasingly popular high frequency bands, because those signals cannot be effectively evaluated from the ground level. Therefore, measurements must be conducted close to the transmitter, which requires special training and equipment to obtain accurate results.

“ECO has been using Spectrum Compact handheld analyzers for years with success. So, it is a logical next step to integrate the instruments with drone technology. The new unmanned aerial vehicle solution will save at least 30% of time, which equates to thousands of manual labor hours in RF measurements performed each year. An additional benefit is that it will allow access to frequencies that could not be previously measured,” said Jānis Bārda, CEO of Electronic Communications Office of Latvia.

“Given the current 5G rollout strategies of many countries, the RF spectrum is becoming saturated. The result is an increased demand for an accurate, safe, cost-effective, and easy-to-use test solution. We see tremendous potential in this application because it saves considerable time and money for customers,” said Jānis Bergs, VP Global Sales & Marketing and President of SAF North America.

Multiple Operational Benefits

The goal of the project is to develop a Spectrum Compact spectrum analyzer compatible with various unmanned aerial vehicles. Compared to alternative solutions, a Spectrum Compact-powered drone system will ensure shorter flight times, improved calculations, and greater automation of the flight plan, as well as more accurate real-time measurements.

The solution will improve upon the safety and efficiency of field engineers. Tasks once performed tens of meters above ground will be achievable without climbing one step. The solution will be available for other communications regulators worldwide.

SAF Tehnika released Spectrum Compact – the world’s first powerful handheld microwave spectrum analyzer – in 2013. It is specifically designed to withstand harsh outdoor environments and meets the needs of any microwave radio engineer performing on-site work. More than 20 national communications regulatory authorities around the world are currently using Spectrum Compact instruments.