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article imageDrones are avoiding tunnel vision with new navigation technology

By Tim Sandle     Nov 1, 2019 in Technology
The new generation of vehicles and drones rely on precise position data. One hazard that is proving challenging is from tunnels, urban canyons and adverse geographical conditions. A new solution promises to overcome this.
The concern with tunnels and other obstacles, when developing autonomous vehicles, is that GNSS-based positioning systems become very unreliable. This arises as systems lose the connection to the position satellites.
There have been several cases of drones crashing in tunnels because they have lost connection to a signal. With autonomous vehicles, various tests have shown similar signal loss issues occurring within underground parking lots.
Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) refers to a constellation of satellites providing signals from space that transmit positioning and timing data to GNSS receivers. The receivers can then these data to determine location.
To overcome this issue, the Swiss company u-blox is working on a technology platform that promises to be much more reliable. The company is working on its M9 technology platform together with its NEO-M9N to create the first module based on this platform.
The technology is capable of receiving signals from four GNSS constellations (GPS, Glonass, Beidou, and Galileo) concurrently. This will help to deliver high positional accuracy. In tests this accuracy extends to challenging conditions like transitioning through canyons.
According to Smart2Zero, trials have shown that the u-blox M9 can offer a position update rate of up to 25 Hz, which aids drones in receiving positional information with low latency. This is achieved through a combination of a SAW (surface acoustic wave) filter and a LNA (low noise amplifier).
Furthermore, the M9 technology comes with special filtering against radio frequency interference. The technology also guards against deliberate attempts at jamming, or spoofing detection.
When commercialized, the system is likely to be offered as a plug-and-play device, one supplied with u-start software, which will be made up of several pre-set scenarios to enable users to explore the performance of the new device.
More about Drones, autonomous vehicles, Navigation, Gps
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