When engineers at Rock West Solutions begin work on a new defense project, they know they are going to be put to the test. Defense applications are unique in so many ways as to be incomparable to many of the civilian projects Rock West works on. The challenges presented by defense applications must absolutely be overcome for a project to survive.
One of the many areas Rock West Solutions specializes in is signal processing. Signal processing is a technology that is proving more valuable to national defense with every passing year. So what are the challenges that signal processing presents in defense applications? The top three are listed below.
1. Signal Acquisition
The signals military planners are most concerned with are those that exist under battle conditions. They include all sorts of signals that can be analog, digital, or, a combination of both. Everything from asset tracking to radio communications between battlefield managers are included here.
The starting point for all of these signals is acquisition. It is easy to transmit raw RF signals through an antenna. Given enough time and space, it is also fairly easy to receive those signals. But in a battle scenario, time is of the essence. Single acquisition must be as fast as possible over the longest possible distances. Moreover, signal acquisition must be effective even in the face of enemy combatants attempting to disrupt said signals.
Another facet of signal acquisition is conversion. In other words, data from analog signals has to be converted into digital data before it can be utilized to its fullest potential. So conversion must be equally fast in a live battle scenario.
2. Sensor Development
Sensors are those devices used to obtain signals. They are critical in a military setting for obvious reasons. Moreover, the right sensors utilized in just the right way could easily mean the difference between victory and defeat on the battlefield. Thus, military decision makers are very choosy about the sensors they approve for adoption.
The challenge of designing sensors lies in specificity. Different sensors do different things. It would be nice if companies like Rock West could design a single sensor to perform every known military function. Yet that is not the way it works. They have to look at each specific need in order to design a sensor to meet that need. As such, sensors designed for military applications tend to be a lot more concise.
3. Data Analysis
Once signals have been acquired and converted, there needs to be a mechanism in place to analyze the data so as to extract those points that are meaningful. This process is referred to as signal analysis. It is also referred to as signal processing from time to time. At any rate, getting it right is critical in a military setting.
The main goal of signal analysis is to simultaneously remove noise and boost relevant data. Noise is any kind of data that is unnecessary to the task at hand. As such, it does not have to be audible noise.
This is perhaps the most difficult challenge in developing signal processing technologies for defense. In a chaotic battle setting, it can be difficult to know the difference between noise and valuable data. Figuring it all out takes time, experience, and lots of learning.
Signal processing technologies are changing military operations for the better. The more we learn about signal processing, the better our technology gets. And with better technology comes increased capabilities. This is exactly what the U.S. Department of Defense is looking for when they award a new technology project.