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RSAE Labs, a Panama City-based company, has achieved the highest standard of innovation across the broadest definition. They have invented, produced and validated new and novel technologies resulting in 13 issued US patents and several pending foreign patents. Industry-expert review has categorized five as “disruptive” to the Internet of Things (IOT) market. Most significantly, in May of this year, they licensed their key intellectual property to the US government as the basis for a new standard for sense-and-respond logistics. With the retention of commercial technology rights, this awardee stands poised to capture a significant portion of the IOT market.
Randall Shepard, RSAE Labs CEO, said “It is a great honor, particularly following in the footstep of such notable companies as ARA, Edge Aerodynamix and DeTect. Many thanks to Pamela Kidwell and the staff at the Business Innovation Center. They’ve been instrumental in our success. We’re proud to be part of the future of Northwest Florida. Can you say Silicon Beach?”
RSAE Labs’ core invention is a radical new way for sensor devices to wirelessly communicate and enable GPS-denied tracking. Now tens of thousands of mobile, battery-powered devices can automatically form and optimize a 2-way encrypted communications network between each other. (Think bucket brigade for data with end devices automatically link with their neighbors that are connected to a data gateway.) Fixed and mobile data gateways provide global communications between end-user servers and mobile devices. Unlike other wireless communications methods, this innovative protocol can sustain data transmissions over several miles for several months, with just an A-size battery in its nodes. Their technology and the resilience of their devices has been validated through years of worldwide deployments in some of the harshest military environments, including Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan. Applications include yard management, continuous cargo visibility, rail safety, bridge monitoring, first responder tracking and last-resort communications for both military and commercial customers.
With RSAE Labs technologies, for the first time, proactive global asset management, continuous tracking, monitoring and alert reporting of cargo in-transit are possible and cost effective. This company has combined military-grade, commercially-priced global tracking devices with the most advanced wireless mesh communications sensor modules to monitor and report any out-of-tolerance conditions to any point on earth in under two minutes of occurrence. If an item being shipped, stored or in use experiences abnormal temperature, humidity, shock or unauthorized access, the designated parties around the globe can immediately receive a text message detailing the event and location.
With operations in Armenia and California, this 2004 Silicon Valley-founded technology group has always had a presence in Bay County. Then in October 2015, Panama City became the company’s headquarters for core development and global operations. Their global customer base for the tracking and monitoring of high value goods includes both commercial and government equipment and cargo, including major components on Tyndall Air Force Base. Three major US aerospace companies are customers, strategic partners or both.
Tapestry Solutions, a Boeing company, and RSAE Labs, a veteran-owned small business, recently demonstrated an advanced asset management solution for U.S. Navy officials that solves logistics challenges related to cargo tracking and monitoring. The solution demonstrated how the integration of software agents, wireless mesh networks and sensor devices can ensure total asset visibility – in open sky or indoor areas without GPS access.
The Department of Defense uses ICODES for global movements of cargo across all modes of transportation – as represented in the photo above involving an SH-60 lifting a cargo pallet from a supply ship.
The companies integrated Tapestry’s software technologies developed for military’s Integrated Computerized Deployment System (ICODES) with the automatic location and monitoring features of RSAE Labs’ mist® mesh network.
ICODES is one of Tapestry’s premier software tools used for military deployment and distribution processes, including conveyance load-planning and yard management. It enables real-time collaborative planning and tracking of cargo for vessels, aircraft and railcars and provides a common operating picture across facilities. ICODES has been the Department of Defense’s vessel load planning system of record since 1997 and has served as its single load planning capability since 2007. Today, ICODES serves over 22,000 global users.
RSAE Labs’ mist solution is an ultra-low power, self-healing mesh protocol that incorporates Automatic Identification Technology (AIT) devices, such as sensor tags, location beacons and network gateways. Unlike other AIT solutions limited to periodic manual or choke-point scans, mist can provide continuous end-to-end visibility of tagged assets in near real-time without the need for a fixed infrastructure. This enables regular position updates and timely sensor alerts for assets as they move through the supply chain.
The demonstration validated that mist asset tags can reliably provide ICODES timely position information, enabling fast and accurate responses.
The RSAE Labs Inc. has greatly enhanced its Yard Management Solution (VMS) by infusing new technology called “mist® mesh” to enhance logistics business processes through faster responses based on improved asset visibility. mist ® VMS meets the challenges of global logistics management, and at the same time affords significant cost-savings. Global logistics of the future requires continuous, nearreal – time, global Total Asset Visibility (TAV) of vital supplies, unit equipment and personnel. A global, reliable, mobile, versatile, integrated, wireless Automatic Identification Technology (AIT) network, like that provided by mist® VMS, is essential to attaining the desired endstate of TAV.
A very representative deployment of mist ® VMS is the Army Mobility Asset Tracking System (AMATS). AMATS is an operational application providing a net-centric, enterprise-wide, automatic identification technology (AIT) network that effectively provides continuous contact with Army assets, equipment and supplies throughout the supply chain. Using AMATS, the US Department of Defense (DoD) demonstrated contractor man-hour savings of over $1OM in just seven months at a single site (Camp Arifjan, Kuwait). At the heart of AMATS is mist ® VMS, which includes state-of-the-art information
assurance (IA) compliant, mobile, ad hoc mesh networking capability that routes asset visibility data from a suite of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.15.4-based Automated Identification Technology (AIT) devices (i.e., sensor tags, gateways) operating in a mesh wireless network that:
- Fully encrypts all communications
- Conserves battery power
- Provides GPS location fixes
- Self-forms and self-heals the network (ad hoc structure)
- Incorporates multiple environmental sensors
- Requires no fixed infrastructure
- Allows many-to-one relationships between network nodes (OOO’s) and gateways
The battery-powered AIT often deployed today, called “active radio frequency identification (RFID),” is 1980’s technology that provides visibility of tagged assets only through “sightings” at nodes and choke points where reader-transponders are installed or where soldiers or contractors “walk the line” with handhelds. It is costly, requires extensive manpower to support to install, operate, and maintain, and is notoriously power-inefficient.
mist® VMS breaks the active RFID paradigm, providing IA compliant wireless mesh networks that will support a wide-range of logistics applications and ensure significant cost savings. Like the AMATS installation at Camp Arifjan, mist® VMS can fully enable users with the capability to determine the
location of assets at any time in a depot, storage yard or maintenance area. The primary mist® VMS function is to collect identification and positioning data on a central server for use by logistics personnel. The system includes Fixed Mesh Gateways (FMGs), Managed Asset Tags with Global Positioning System Receivers (MAT-GPS) and a Device Management Center (DMC) server set.
mist® VMS Benefits:
- Increases customer oversight and improves asset accountability
- Eases customer oversight requirement for asset management process
- Improves property accountability – pinpoints item location within 20 ft
- Mitigates property loss and related administrative burden
- Significantly increases asset visibility and improves operational efficiency
- Near real-time-visibility – replaces inaccurate in/out process scanning
- Identifies process friction points and trends
- Enables process analysis – records dwell time of equipment at specific locations
- Provides accurate process and capacity tracking
- Minimizes IT Infrastructure
- Eliminates signpost and fixed readers; eliminates hand-held manpower requirement
- Simple installation provides flexible, adaptive infrastructure
- Immediate Tag Updates
- Tags can be updated remotely without human touch
- Eliminates tag removal
- Reduction in operational cost (e.g., saving $10,047,000 in contractor man-hours in seven months)
- Reduces manpower requirements
- Improves overall program effectiveness
RSAE Labs Inc. has developed and begun deploying mist ® VMS, an information assured, edge network to the internet to provide near-real-time visibility of tagged assets, enabling end-to-end asset visibility and in transit visibility from strategic nodes, through all intermediate nodes, into the last tactical mile in direct support to global operations. Current methods of attaining some level of visibility of assets leave significant gaps throughout the pipeline. Further, these methods are manpower intensive, costly when compared to the benefit they derive, and offer little usability at the management and local-labor level.
Finally, the current battery-powered AIT (active RFID) deployed today is 1980’s industrial age technology that provides only nodal, chokepoint visibility of tagged assets. This current AIT infrastructure is very costly, requires extensive contractor support to install and maintain, and was designed in a closed proprietary architecture (e.g., Savi tags). The mist ® mesh network breaks that mold, providing information-age, information assurance compliant wireless mesh network that will support a wide range of logistics applications and save significant money. The mist ® mesh network will enable continuous contact with tagged assets while also providing platform/asset monitoring through the integration of sensors, realizing the concepts for Sense and Respond Logistics.
RSAE Labs Inc, a Panama City, FL-based company focused on the development, manufacture, integration and maintenance of high technology systems for government and commercial customers, reports that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved its low-power mesh-networking sensors for use on airplanes.
The company’s sensors are battery-powered tags that form ad hoc networks, communicating with each other via radio waves. Eventually, the data is passed to a node that forwards it to a back-end host, where the information can then be analyzed and acted upon. RSAE Labs acquired the meshnetworking technology in 2015, when it purchased the assets of Cubic Global Tracking Solutions.
The individual network nodes, sometimes called motes, support temperature, humidity and shock sensors. Randall Shepard, RSAE Labs CEO, says the company plans to market the solution to pharmaceutical manufacturers that airfreight temperature-sensitive drugs around the world. The system will be able to report, in real time, if a shipment’s temperature falls outside a preprogrammed range.
RSAE Labs has been working to secure approval from the FAA and airlines—both of which must authorize the technology’s use before the devices can be attached to shipments—for nearly two years. The firm performed tests, based on FAA guidelines, in order to determine whether the RSAE Labs system performed within FAA specifications. After reviewing the test results, the FAA sent CGTS a letter indicating that the agency had approved the use of its low-power mesh-networking sensors on aircraft.
“Because of the nature of our technology, which uses very little power, the FAA found that our system would not interfere with RF and other navigational equipment on the plane,” Shepard states. “Getting approval is a big deal, because there are a lot of companies that would like to monitor shipments in real time.”
United Airlines is the first carrier to accept the use of RSAE Labs’ solution on its planes. Each airline must approve the technology’s use individually. According to Shepard, RSAE Labs’ mesh-network system has been evaluated recently by the major North American railroads to detect possible maintenance issues, as well as by a major aerospace company that needs to control the humidity and temperatures of certain pieces of equipment. The U.S. Army has also deployed more than 20,000 RSAE Labs tags to manage logistics regarding military equipment used in the Middle East (U.S. Army Deploys ‘Soldier-Friendly’ System to Track Thousands of Vehicles in Kuwait). The DoD plans to expand this deployment to begin tracking retrograde cargo using the mesh-network tags.