Eyes on the GSA’s GNSS User Technology Report at ION GNSS+

The European GNSS Agency (GSA), in cooperation with the European Commission, organised a demo session at the ION GNSS+ 2018 conference in Miami. Participants learned about the GSA’s GNSS User Technology Report, which covers breakthrough innovations expected in the coming years, and they heard from hands-on developers of hardware and applications that use Galileo-enabled, dual-frequency positioning.


The GNSS User Technology Report is the go-to source for comprehensive information on the latest trends from the rapidly developing world of satellite-based navigation. The second edition, released this year, delivers an in-depth review of the latest state-of-the-art receiver technologies and provides analysis on the trends that are redefining the GNSS landscape.

This year's Report addresses with special attention the new capabilities enabled by Galileo, as the mass market starts to take advantage of the increased L5/E5 frequency capacity in orbit, as well as Galileo navigation message authentication.

At the GSA session in Miami Gian-Gherardo Calini, GSA Head of Market Development, presented highlights from the Report. "We are really focussed on three specific macro-segments," he said. "These are mass market solutions, transport safety- and liability-critical solutions, and we also have the high-precision, timing and asset management solutions."

A crucial observation outlined in the report, Calini said, is that worldwide GNSS infrastructure is indeed responding to the increasing user demand. "All global and regional GNSS constellations are developing, modernising and innovating," he said, "with more than 100 GNSS satellites now available, including of course Galileo, which is operational and performing very well."


Responding to user demands


Increasing demand for better performance is also pushing the growth in production of multi-frequency receivers. The main benefits here include increased accuracy and improved robustness. Today only around 30% of available receiver models use GPS only.
"While the legacy L1/E1 and L2 combination is still the most used dual-frequency solution," Calini said, "what we are seeing now is that L1/E1 and E5/L5 is the fastest growing dual-frequency solution. It is supported by a larger number of satellites and these two specific frequencies are the only protected ARNS (Aeronautical Radio Navigation Service) bands."

Calini also pointed to a growing offer of high-precision services targeting a wider customer base. Commercial augmentation services are beginning to deliver mass-market PPP and RTK corrections, while new high-accuracy services are being proposed directly by system providers such as Galileo and Japan's QZSS.

There are of course some important challenges still to be addressed. Calini said: "We still need to see improvements in terms of convergence time, for example, associated with PPP correction services. This is certainly needed to satisfy users' expectations in the automotive industry." Indeed, many presentations throughout the week-long ION GNSS+ event highlighted work aimed at delivering the high-precision, robust and secure positioning now desperately needed for the fast-emerging autonomous driving market.

Finally, Calini reminded participants of the different techniques used to mitigate signal vulnerabilities and highlighted that: "Security is especially important where PNT is at the core of automated systems such as autonomous vessels, cars or drones."


Exploiting the new dual-frequency GNSS


The GSA session at this year's ION GNSS+ featured a number of speakers presenting innovative applications that leverage the power and versatility of modern GNSS. Jefferey Wilson of STMicroelectronics was the first to speak, impressing gathered participants with his presentation of the Teseo V dual-band GNSS receiver, aimed at the automotive PPP and ASIL (Automotive Safety Integrity Level) market.

"In the automotive sector we are looking at ADAS/autonomous driving applications, collision avoidance, 'super-cruise' and auto-pilot driving modes," Wilson said, "as well as vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-everything connectivity." As the audience watched, he demonstrated the receiver's rapid convergence time and positioning accuracy, including Galileo dual-band tracking of E1 and E5 frequencies. The Teseo V also enables anti-spoofing and integrity functions, with built-in tracking cross-check.

Paolo Crosta of the European Space Agency presented the results of testing carried out at ESA ESTEC that showed sub-metre static positioning accuracy enabled by Galileo using a dual-frequency GNSS chipset. "We have demonstrated that these dual-frequency measurements along with GNSS chipset algorithmic enhancements are enabling a significant reduction of positioning error," he said.

Completing the line-up at the GSA session in Miami was Sean Barbeau of the University of South Florida. He presented the long-running and always-improving 'GPSTest' app, a dual-frequency GNSS application for Android devices.

"This is a free, open-source app that supports GPS, Galileo, GLONASS, QZSS, BeiDou and all of the various SBAS satellites and two GNSS frequencies," Barbeau said. In fact, he explained, GPSTest has been out there for a long time, but Barbeau and his team keep it constantly updated and operating at a very high level. The app provides real-time ground and sky maps and in-depth information on the entire range of operational GNSS satellites.


GSA says 'get involved'!


Once the presentations were concluded, session participants were able to get some real, up-close exposure to all of the featured apps. The applications on show, along with many others, are now demonstrating in a very convincing way the power and precision enabled by dual-frequency GNSS, with Galileo leading the way.

Calini said: "These demonstrations are very important for you, to get involved in the concrete aspects, what we are talking about in the GSA User Technology Report. And please remember, the Report is published every two years, but as you know technology is changing every minute. Therefore, any challenge, any idea, any comment, any suggestions are most welcome. Please, come back to us. "

"As for Galileo dual frequency," he concluded, "it can in fact improve positioning accuracy and therefore position Galileo, with all the differentiators, as a strong player in automotive – the self-driving car, autonomous car - and in the mass market with smartphones."

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