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It takes two

By GeoConnexion - 23rd October 2014 - 16:30

The European GNSS Agency is hoping to change the way people around the world work. Gian Gherardo Calini looks at how GNSS receivers that incorporate EGNOS and Galileo positioning information can boost accuracy and also looks at some of the results of recent funding efforts to create new applications and technologyâ©

Global navigation satellite system (GNSS)-enabled technology has positioned itself as a game changer, particularly for the survey and mapping sectors. However, to reach its full potential, the solutions developed must be made widely accessible and the user given the knowledge needed to use the technology.â©

This is what the European GNSS Agency (GSA) aims to do. Our goal is to provide true benefits to European citizens. With the European GNSS market rapidly expanding – 30% of today’s receivers are Galileo-enabled – it is important we continue to support the user’s ever-evolving needs. â©

The driving forces behind this effort to empower the user are EGNOS (the European Geostationary Overlay Service) and Galileo. EGNOS is already having a significant impact on the market. Galileo, on the other hand, is a global service offering similar characteristics to GPS and fully interoperable with it.â©

Although originally developed for aviation, today EGNOS has extended its reach to land users. Already operational, it is providing sub-metre level accuracy and responding well to the need for enhanced GPS positioning by municipalities, farmers and forestry authorities, among others. It is widely adopted in all levels of devices, providing added value free of charge. â©

The EGNOS signal provides a constant level of position accuracy throughout the EGNOS compliance area, which covers Europe and parts of Northern Africa and the Middle East. EGNOS corrections can be received via two means. It can be reached directly via EGNOS satellites with a normal EGNOS-enabled GPS receiver and without incurring any communication cost. It can also be received via such terrestrial communication means as internet or mobile phone networks, thanks to EDAS, the EGNOS Data Access Service. EDAS is the single point of access for the data generated and collected by EGNOS and, as such, provides a new opportunity for high precision service providers to enlarge their portfolio. EDAS is freely available and fully operational.â©

Galileo, on the other hand, will enable enhanced performance compared to previous combinations of GPS and the Russian GLONASS by providing signals on dual frequencies. Galileo is Europe’s GNSS programme, which unlike its US and Russian counterparts is under full civilian control. â©

With its full complement of satellites, more than the current GNSS systems, Galileo will allow positions to be determined more accurately even in high-rise cities, where buildings obscure signals from today’s satellites. Galileo will also offer several signal enhancements, making the signal easier to track and acquire and more resistant against interference and reflections. â©

Dual designsâ©

Dual-constellation GNSS designs are the standard for many smartphones and other devices. The combination of GPS and Galileo provides a robust solution and is expected to offer performance that will meet or exceed end-user expectations. In fact, an extensive testing campaign has proved that Galileo is performing very well. â©

Recent tests conducted by Rx Networks measured the performance of Galileo when used in real-world environments with GPS and GLONASS. Each test consisted of three hours capturing the GNSS signals, which was later replayed to produce hundreds of fixes using a multi-constellation GNSS receiver from STMicroelectronics.â©

The results showed that adding Galileo on top of GPS and GLONASS improves the accuracy of location fixes when indoors or in urban canyons. The performance of Galileo with GPS or other GNSS will further improve in the future, as more Galileo satellites are launched.â©

Supporting accessâ©

There is growing interest in these programmes coming from numerous sectors, including road and survey/mapping. To support user access across these segments, the GSA, on behalf of the European Commission, is managing the support of innovative GNSS application development under such European Research and Development Programmes as FP7 and ‘Horizon 2020’. The aim of these funding programmes is to accelerate the uptake of European satellite navigation in key user segments and, judging from past projects and current funding applications, this is exactly what is happening.â©

A prime example of the innovation coming out of these funding programmes is the Enhanced Code Galileo Receiver for Land Management in Brazil (ENCORE) project. Although Brazil has millions of hectares for farming, many are either not properly identified or present serious discrepancies. ENCORE aims to satisfy the increasing demand for topographical surveys in rural Brazil by introducing Galileo terminals in the Brazilian market for land management applications. â©

The proposed application will cover these geo-referencing and cadastre planning needs using a low-cost, enhanced Galileo Code Receiver as a baseline. In the end, the project expects to stimulate participation from international entities in Brazil, with the look towards future expansion to other South American countries.â©

Another success story can be found in the Advanced Galileo Navigation System for Asphalts Fleet Machines (ASPHALT) project. As today’s asphalt road construction relies greatly on the experience of the construction worker to optimally manage their truck fleets, operate the paver and steer the compactor, any sub-optimal operation within this chain leads to a reduction in road quality. â©

ASPHALT intends to remove or reduce these quality-influencing issues by developing a system for on-site machine control and fleet management. The project uses positioning information to provide machine control and fleet management on the construction site, including the mass flow of asphalt, detailed optimisation of different machine control loops and quality-dependent measurement systems. â©

The futureâ©

Similar to the FP7 programme, the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation is likely to have a significant SME component. The three EU-GNSS FP7 calls resulted in 10 patents/registered trademarks, 33 commercialised products or services and 69 working prototypes – with more expected. â©

Of particular interest is how much of the EU-GNSS funds went towards supporting small and medium enterprises (SMEs): 40% of all allocated GNSS funding went to SMEs, compared to a 15% EU FP7 average. With the first call recently coming to a close, contracts are expected to be awarded by the end of the year, along with a second call.â©

Galileo improves the accuracy of location fixes when indoors or in urban canyonsâ©

Gian Gherardo Calini is head of market development at the European GNSS Agency (GSA) (www.gsa.europa.eu)

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