In 2009, the company ViaLight Communications (VLC) was founded. Among other things, VCL uses technologies developed at DLR to build and distribute commercial laser transmission systems for applications such as optical downlinks for aircrafts.
Optical transmission systems enable very high data rates, while the transmitter and receiver units are very small. In addition, the power requirement of the system is lower than for conventional radio systems and due to the point-to-point characteristic of optical links no radio license is required. Therefore, optical data transmission systems are very well suited for projects such as VABENE++ in order to provide high resolution aerial images at a ground station in real time.
In the project VABENE the FreeSpace Experimental Laser Terminal II “FELT II” was developed and successfully deployed with the transportable optical ground station (TOGS) of DLR. VLC's MLT-20 is an advancement of this system. It has recently passed its baptism of fire with successful optical downlink tests on a Tornado aircraft and thus proved its operational readiness.
Transportable Optical Ground Station (TOGS) and laser communication system FELT II on a Do 228 aircraft of DLR
Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)