SmartSat is integrating the capabilities from the priority areas set in SmartSat’s Technology Roadmap across three primary research program areas as below.

In a world with insatiable thirst for Digital connectivity and the explosion of machine-to-machine communications, the need for reliable, high speed secure communications is critical to the economic competitiveness of Australia. This theme may produce new technologies, signal processing algorithms and communications architectures to ensure that Australia meets its needs for universal digital connectivity and help create new commercial opportunities. See projects in Advanced Communication, Connectivity & IoT Technologies projects below:
Topics include:
  • Laser communication
  • Next Generation ground stations & terminals
  • Mobile optical antennas
  • Quantum cryptography
  • Adaptive communication networks
  • Spectrum sensing & Cognitive radio
  • Next Generation IoT architectures
  • Ad-hoc connectivity
  • Satellite & terrestrial network integration

Spectrum Monitoring: Identifying Australia’s Needs and Opportunities

Advanced Communication, Connectivity & IoT Technologies

The aim of this project is to identify areas of growth in satellite spectrum monitoring. It will provide advice on what technology capabilities can be developed within Australia and assess the market potential. The main outcome will be a report describing: potential users, the user requirements and a plan to meet those requirements.

The final report will also quantify the expected social and economic benefit to Australia of developing a sovereign space-based spectrum monitoring system.

The report will include a survey of relevant technologies that either already exist or can be developed in Australia. By matching the user requirements with available technologies, the report will provide advice on what research areas need to be focused on.


Project Leader:
Professor Sam Drake, Flinders University


Resilient Emergency and Search and Rescue (SAR) Communications

Advanced Communication, Connectivity & IoT Technologies

The aim of the project is to develop enhanced system requirements and resilient architectural designs, waveforms and protocols for selected concepts of operation and use cases, that will improve the efficacy and operation of the current system.

Existing Search and Rescue (SAR) systems suffer from operational and performance limitations that limit their effectiveness.  This project will initially focus on the current internationally used Cospas-Sarsat SAR system, a system constrained by a number of existing specifications and requirements, and then extend to additional applications.  The first phase of this work will develop enhanced system requirements and resilient architectural designs, waveforms and protocols for selected concepts of operation and use cases, that will improve the efficacy and operation of the current system.

This phase will not only look at the Cospas-Sarsat system, but also extend to investigating how emergency management can be impacted and enhanced.  Further, it will study initial architecture options for a prospective new environment being developed by NASA to support the safety of astronauts (called LunaSAR) as part of the Moon to Mars ARTEMIS program.


Project Leader:
Dr Mark Rice, Safety from Space


Q Pathfinder – Quantum Enhanced Secure Comms for Small Sats and IoT

Advanced Communication, Connectivity & IoT Technologies

The objectives of this project are as follows:

  1. Define Quantum Enhanced Secure Communications (QComms) system architecture(s) able to provide enhanced, quantum strength security to communication between resource-limited space segment (small satellites) and resource-limited ground users that could be used either as a standalone system for IoT served by small satellites or as a part of larger quantum communication infrastructure, and
  2. Define a preliminary technology plan to turn the currently available implementations of selected technologies into space-worthy devices for the LEO environment.


Project Leader:
Paolo Bianco, Airbus


Potentials and Limitations of the IEEE 802.15.3d Standard for Terahertz Satellite Communications

Advanced Communication, Connectivity & IoT Technologies

The communications capacities of current satellite technologies are expected to be lagging behind the ever-increasing demands for broadband services. It is foreseen by industry professionals that a rising number of high-throughput satellites must be able to handle a vast amount of data collectively for different purposes such as 5G+, the Internet of Things (IoT), and smart homes and cities as well as defence applications.

Recently, the IEEE 802.15.3d™-2017 Standard for point-to-point (P2P) wireless terahertz links was released to support a wide range of data transmission rates, namely from 1 Gbps to 300 Gbps using channel bandwidths as high as 69 GHz, in the terahertz band. To put into perspective, the nominal data rates are sufficient to support the streaming of tens of uncompressed 4K and 8K videos simultaneously. As such, utilising terahertz communications for satellite networks implies high-quality services for a number of applications.

Therefore, in this project, we plan to investigate the potential opportunities and challenges of applying the terahertz technology to inter/intra-satellite communications within the technical specifications framework defined by the IEEE 802.15.3d™-2017 Standard.

This includes Software Defined Networking (SDN) solutions to centralise the orchestration of the whole network, the control and sharing of the network resources, implementations of intelligent Software Defined Radio (SDR) transponders and user terminals with machine learning technologies, advanced digital multibeam precoding, dynamic control of multi-spot beam patterns and distributed computing tasks based on traffic conditions and QoS requirements. The project will engage relevant researchers from industry and academia to establish which elements are the key factors and bottlenecks in delivering gains from next generation satellites.


Project Leader:
Dr Withawat Withayachumnankul, University of Adelaide

PhD Student:
Mohamed Shehata, The University of Adelaide


Physical Layer Security for Satellite based IoT Edge Services with Deep Reinforcement Learning for Energy Efficiency

Advanced Communication, Connectivity & IoT Technologies

IoT is perceived as Internet of Threats by many businesses and consumers. With cyber-attacks becoming more sophisticated day by day, IoT data security, privacy and confidentiality is one of the biggest challenges. Security becomes a greater concern when wireless networks are used for IoT connectivity as they are easily vulnerable to security threats such as eavesdropping, jamming, data modification etc.

Another important issue is to power these IoT edge devices which in some scenarios will be located in extremely remote areas. From the consumer’s perspective, post-rollout maintenance of sensor nodes such as replacing batteries in a short amount of time is extremely undesirable. Hence, there is a need to use machine learning techniques particularly deep reinforcement learning so that the IoT devices/agents can become energy self-sufficient by making optimized decisions based on the learnt policies.

This project will address the these issues jointly by developing novel energy management and data transmissions techniques for energy self-sufficient and secure IoT systems using deep reinforcement learning and a robust PLS approach. Furthermore, we plan to test our designed model on mission critical Smart Grid sensor and monitoring scenario to ensure that the developed solutions are efficient, scalable, and implementable for massive IoT systems.


Project Leader:
Dr Tommy Huynh, La Trobe University

PhD Student:
Duaa Fatima, La Trobe University


Optical Channel Modelling

Advanced Communication, Connectivity & IoT Technologies

Channel models for optical space communication are vital to design and manage optical satellite links, especially for ground-space communication through the atmosphere. There is an identified need among a number of partner organisations of SmartSat for accurate and reliable channel models.

The aim of this project is to scope the current research literature and current practice in channel modelling to form the basis for future optical channel modelling projects to provide theoretical and practical resources to support the high-speed, high reliability and highly adaptable communication capabilities needed for advanced applications.

The scope of the project, including stage two, would consider link impairments such as turbulence, pointing error, aperture effects and various forms of shadowing and be incorporating techniques such as
adaptive optics, phase stabilisation and diversity with the goal of developing models as mathematically tractable as possible and simulation and numerical techniques to enable models to be applicable
to as wide a range of scenarios as possible. Models will be validated using data as realistic whenever possible.


Project Leader:
Associate Professor Rein Vesilo, Macquarie University