2017 Leadership Awards honor the best in the GNSS industry

December 1, 2017  - By

Event photos by Melanie Beus

The GPS World Leadership Awards were presented during a special ceremony and dinner during ION-GNSS+ 2017 in Portland in September.

The awards recognize significant recent achievement in these fields of positioning, navigation and timing: satellites, signals, services and products.

The Leadership Dinner was made possible by our generous sponsors: Harris Corporation, Rockwell Collins and Spirent Federal Systems.

2017 dinner program cover. (Image: GPS World)

2017 dinner program cover. (Image: GPS World)

Opening remarks by Alan Cameron, editor and publisher of GPS World
Everyone at this great conference is actively engaged in innovation: new approaches, new combinations, new integrations, new methodologies.

Our sponsors are not only innovators, they are active in building those innovations in the field, installing the cornerstones of GPS and GNSS technology. Harris Corporation has been building the GPS satellite payloads since the beginning of time, Rockwell Collins has built so much user equipment, historically and currently, and Spirent Federal Systems has been enabling the development and testing of much user equipment by many companies in this room.

Just to give you an idea of who else is seated among you at the tables, we have NovAtel, Spectracom, IFEN, Septentrio, Satelles, Syntony, Unicore, u-blox, ComNav, RaceLogic, Rohde & Schwarz, ublox, Locata, GMV, Leica, Thales, Boeing, Broadcom, Qualcomm, Google, Apple, Intel, MITRE and Aerospace Corporation; the U.S. Air Force GPS Directorate, the U.S. State Department, the European Space Agency, the European GNSS Agency and the European Commission, NASA, the French and German aerospace agencies; the Institute of Navigation and the Royal Institute of Navigation; and universities and research institutes almost too many to number.

This is a great industry to be part of, and I feel lucky to be kind of a spectator, a commentator in it without the benefit of the scientific upbringing that everybody else in this room has had. I still get to participate in the excitement and the developments and for that I am truly grateful.

Satellites Leadership Award

Galileo Builder

Wolfgang Paetsch

Director of Navigation and Member of the Executive Board, OHB

For his leadership in setting up the routine production of the Galileo satellites leading to Galileo constellation deployment, including thequadruple Ariane 5 launch in November 2016.

Paul Verhoef (right), director of the Galileo Programme and Navigation-related Activities, European Space Agency, accepted the award and delivered remarks on behalf of Wolfgang Paetsch. (Right photo: Melanie Beus)

Introduction by Rob Scott, Rockwell Collins

“Forty years ago, Rockwell Collins celebrated the first receipt of a GPS signal, using a six-foot tall, two-person receiver. Now we have something something 1 by 1-1/4 inches that is far more capable. It’s amazing to see how technology has advanced.”

Remarks by Wolfgang Paetsch

I must admit I am rather at fault for Wolfgang not being here, because I keep him rather busy producing satellites, as OHB is completing the last of 22 satellites under contract from ESA. We are going to launch again in December, as you know we have had a few problems, which I’m glad to say we have solved. The issues are behind us, and the Swiss clocks are working fine now, which is great.

On Dec. 12 we are going to launch. The first two satellites are in Kourou already, the next ones are going in two weeks [as of Sept. 28; all satellites are now in Kourou. — Ed.] We’re going to go up on an Ariane 5 again, with these four satellites. Next summer we are doing another four, so it brings the whole Galileo constellation from 18 to 26, and then we are fully operational.

In this business it is quite a challenge to keep up the pace. I think OHB, with Wolfgang in the lead, has done very well in the past years to set up indeed a very impressive production line and keep all the machinery ticking over. It has been a big challenge for them, as they had been a relatively small player in the space business, while at the same time they have been able to win other competitions in the space business in other areas. OHB has been doing very well and we are glad of course that they are doing well because it was important to get Galileo up and running.

OHB has managed to win recently another contract, good for them, we are about ready to give them the first options on that contract, so we will have a total of 14 satellites under contract with them, in addition to the 22 they are completing. These satellites will further complete the constellation and they will already start replacing the first IOV satellites which we have put up. So you see the cycle is rather quick. Of course we are waiting a bit to see what the real lifetime of the satellites is going to be. We don’t know that yet but we will find out in the next couple of years.

Looking Ahead. So what are the challenges for us in the next years? We are currently working with colleagues from the European Commission and the European GNSS Agency on what the next constellations are going to do. Obviously there is a lot of pressure for further innovation, for further improvements. The user community over the last couple of years has become more outspoken about what they want and what they expect, which is nice. Obviously we need to take care of the legacy users, and we are having to see what new technology would allow us to do. At the end of the day there is then also a small thing called budget, which needs to have its play in these things.

In any case, the plan is by the end of the year we will start the procurement of the next batch of satellites. This will take a while to do, this procurement, as it concerns new developments, but then we are going to go for the next constellation.

So let me finish by paying a tribute to Wolfgang and his team. It has been a real challenge for them. I know that he was pretty amazed, and after that pretty proud, of this prize he has gotten, and I will carefully carry this back to him in Europe.

Alan, thank you very much.

Services Leadership Award

Global Educator

Patricia Doherty

Director and Senior Scientist, Institute for Scientific Research, Boston College

For initiating and leading the African GNSS Outreach program since 2009, to help developing countries derive social and economic benefits from satellite-based PNT.

Frank van Diggelen (left, above), an African Outreach faculty member and principal software engineer, Google, introduced and conferred the award to Pat Doherty. (Photo: Melanie Beus)

Introduction by Frank van Diggelen

“I had the great honor and privilege of teaching in the African GNSS Outreach program. If you are approached to participate in this, seize the opportunity! It’s a fabulous thing, with people from all over Africa, and you’ll learn far more than you think.”

Remarks by Patricia Doherty

I would like to thank GPS World for this Leadership Services Award. I am sincerely honored and humbled by this recognition. Serving the GNSS community with the African Outreach Program has been a joy and a privilege that I am personally grateful for every day.

This program began in 2009. The idea was conceived at a G8-UNESCO World Forum that I was fortunate to attend in 2007. At that forum, leaders from developing nations of Africa described the need for assistance in developing science and technology in their countries, technologies that would lead the way to socio-economic transformation and integration into the world economy. As all of us here know, GNSS is a space technology that can change the world with applications that can increase food security, monitor natural resources, manage wildlife conservation, improve emergency location services, and provide greater precision and safety in land, sea and air navigation — just to name a few of the possibilities.

Thus the goal of the African Outreach Program was to encourage the use of GNSS for societal and economic development and for scientific exploration in Africa. The way to do that was to help build a knowledgeable African GNSS workforce. I am glad to report that the program has been quite successful. To date, we have hosted 9 workshops. In those workshops, we have introduced the art and science of GNSS navigation to over 450 professors and students from at least 23 of the 54 countries in Africa. Many of the African participants have gone on to do great things: hosting local workshops, developing GNSS programs in their universities, gaining government confidence and interest in GNSS technology and building infrastructure that enabled the use of GNSS.

One of the prime reasons for this success are the sponsors who support us and the lecturers who generously share their time, their knowledge and their zeal for GNSS to teach at the workshops. Many of these lecturers are here tonight. So thank you all. Many of these lecturers have expressed that their lives were enriched by this program. Others have told me that they have never seen a more attentive audience and that just having the opportunity to meet and work with people from the developing world in Africa is a gratifying experience. Several of our lecturers, including myself, are now involved in collaborations with scientists in the developing world.

More to come. Although this sounds like we have done our job, there is still so much to do. Change is slow in Africa. Our plans for the future include building on our success by hosting additional workshops where we will try to reach additional countries in Africa and strengthen current programs and infrastructure in countries where that has been slow to develop. We are also opening the program to other developing countries around the world, as there has been much interest from Central America, South America and Asia. Finally, we are working to bring more workshops to the African continent, where we can reach more students, have an effect on local universities and speak to the local government about the benefits of using GNSS as an enabling technology for societal betterment and economic growth.

In closing, I am honored to receive this award and I look forward to continuing our work to support the use of GNSS in developing nations. Thank you, GPS World, and thank you to our sponsors, lecturers and our African participants for making this program a success.

Signals Leadership Award

Spectrum Advisor

Chris Hegarty

Director for Communications, Navigation and Surveillance Engineering and Spectrum, The MITRE Corporation

For contributions to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s GPS Adjacent Band Compatibility Assessment.

Chris Hegarty (Photo: Melanie Beus)

Introduction by Joe Rolli, Harris Corporation

“On behalf of the Harris Corporation and the team I work with in the Precision Navigation and Timing Business Area, providing the world with GPS signals from space for over forty years, I am pleased to present this year’s Leadership Signals Award.”

Remarks by Chris Hegarty

Thank you very much. I really appreciate this. The truth be told, of course, the Adjacent Band Compatibility (ABC) study has had many contributors. I’m honored to receive this award, but equally deserving are many others including Karen Van Dyke at DOT, Steve Mackey and Hadi Wassaf at DOT’s Volpe Center, Karl Shallberg at Zeta, and too many others to list at DOT, the Air Force, NASA, other federal partners and their contractors.

Looking forward, for those of you who have not been following this issue, the GPS spectrum is being challenged. The spectrum is highly valued and of course there are companies that would like to use that spectrum.

I think that it’s safe to say that no one would really want to stop them from using that spectrum if it didn’t have an impact on GPS, but the unfortunate reality is that it appears the deployment of a 4G network or other potential use of the bands adjacent to GPS with similar transmitter power levels would disrupt the operations of many hundreds of thousands of receivers. To ignore the issue would really be a mistake for our industry.

This issue unfortunately isn’t going to go away. The pressure on spectrum is going to continue to grow — until someone figures out how to communicate without using electromagnetic waves. So this is going to be a persistent problem.

I think we can build receivers, in the future, that can deal with some new systems in adjacent bands, but it’s going to be imperative for a long transition period to protect the investments made by many people in the room here and the folks that we support.

That’s all I wanted to say, thank you again very much.

Products Leadership Award

Advanced Capability Developers

Charles Abraham, Andreas Warloe and Javier de Salas 

Vice President of Engineering, Senior Director of Engineering, and Director of Software Engineering, respectively, Broadcom

For developing the first dual-frequency L1/L5 E1/E5 GNSS chip for smartphones, ushering in a new era of high-precision GNSS in mass-market products.

Charles Abraham and Andreas Warloe, with Javier de Salas (not shown);  Ellen Hall (left), CEO of Spirent Federal Systems, introduced and conferred the award. (Photo: Melanie Beus)

Introduction by Ellen Hall, Spirent Federal

“As pioneers in GNSS satellite simulation, beginning in 1985, we’re really proud of our heritage. We’re also really proud of Broadcom.  They are a user of Spirent equipment as well, so that makes us doubly happy to award this to them.”

Remarks by Andreas Warloe

Thank you to GPS World and the sponsors and supporters of this event, from Charlie Abraham, Javier de Salas, myself and the Broadcom marketing and engineering teams, for this award. We are very honored that our efforts to provide the best possible GNSS to as many people as possible have been recognized in this way.

A few years back, we had completed receiver support for a fifth GNSS L1 system and asked ourselves “What’s next?” At that time, technology nodes were getting to a point where a single chip L1/L5/E1/E5 receiver could be contemplated, and the Galileo launch schedule was picking up speed. An old outlandish idea suddenly didn’t seem as outlandish any more.

Many or most of you in this room are experts in the business of perfection; the business of perfecting and pushing performance boundaries for GNSS. As designers of mass-market devices, we have instead become experts in the art of compromise: If we can achieve good performance at 10mA, then how about 5mA? If we can implement a 16-bit data path with 0.1dB losses, how few bits can we get away with for 0.2dB losses? How can we add support for new GNSS systems without growing RF, digital hardware or software? It is this extreme frugality that now has enabled us to put a complete single chip L1/L5 system in the hands of phone and wearables manufacturers, with smaller size and lower power consumption than the previous L1-only generations.

Competition in our market is fierce, but we are excited about this opportunity to work together with our competitors to promote this new level of precision to our common customers. We have taken initiative in this area by forming the Dual Frequency Alliance. There is an investment that has to be made in phones, with antenna and filtering support for the new band. Only when these investments are made will we be able to bring this new performance level to hundreds of millions of people. Only then will we start seeing new applications built on high-precision ­— applications that haven’t even been envisioned yet. Once those applications are available, there will be pressure to expand L1/L5 technology from flagship phones to truly mass-market phones.

L5 support enables high-accuracy GNSS, but it does not guarantee it. To go from multi-meter precision to sub-meter precision requires advanced software. GNSS chip manufacturers can provide a good starting point, but once GNSS measurements are made available, GNSS students and experts alike can supply clever applications, professional software tools and infrastructure to further advance GNSS technology. Our job is to work together to push the L1/L5 technology into phones, to provide a new platform for GNSS development.

In summary, we would like to work as an industry to make L1/L5/E1/E5 the new standard for GNSS performance, and to make these measurements available in phones for as many engineers as possible to either monetize their existing IP or develop entirely new IP.