Centimeters and picoseconds without satellites or atomic clocks

April 4, 2023  - By
Image: Locata

Locata dish antenna pointed back to EU’s JRC, 44 km away, just under the setting sun. The Yagi antenna above is pointed to a cell tower in Como and used to connect the system for remote control and data logging.
Image: Locata

A new European Commission (EC) Technical Report, published after exhaustive and completely independent testing of several candidate A-PNT (Alternative Positioning, Navigation, and Timing) technologies, confirms that Locata has demonstrated positioning and timing performance across every test environment, delivering:

  • cm-level positioning accuracy in all tests, indoor and outdoor, under static and kinematic conditions
  • picosecond-level time transfer using Locata’s proprietary TimeLoc technology, over multiple media types including RF over distances of more than 105 kilometres and over fibreoptic and/or coaxial cables, without requiring satellites or atomic clocks.

The rigorous scientific test campaign was conducted over a period of eight months by experts from the EC’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Italy. Its purpose was to establish the foundations for European navigation and timing policy, including the upcoming European radio navigation plan, in the context of growing concerns about the single-point-of-failure that GPS and other Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) pose.

According to Locata, their validated capabilities promise to open previously unattainable, satellite-free A-PNT performance for autonomous vehicles, logistics, indoor positioning, critical national infrastructure, and aviation, as well as better levels of synchronization to improve mobile phone and digital data networks.

Locata’s products have been deployed commercially for a decade, delivering cm-level positioning (via sales and IP licenses) to globally recognized partners, including systems now certified for safety-of-life level operation of autonomous vehicles. Prominent government customers include NASA and the United States Air Force, which runs a large Locata network that covers more than 6,500 sq km for aviation use when GPS is being jammed or spoofed.

This performance evaluation assessment was run under a globally-open tender launched by the EC’s Directorate-General for Defence Industry and Space (DEFIS). The tender sought applications from around the world, from every potential candidate claiming they could provide “an alternative to GNSS-based PNT.” More than 30 companies applied, and this number was then down-selected by an expert panel to the seven technologies that were, in the end, independently evaluated. Locata was the only technology that was granted two contract slots, and the only technology that completed every timing and positioning test, in every indoor and outdoor environment, sought by the EU.

About the Author: Matteo Luccio

Matteo Luccio, GPS World’s Editor-in-Chief, possesses more than 20 years of experience as a writer and editor for GNSS and geospatial technology magazines. He began his career in the industry in 2000, serving as managing editor of GPS World and Galileo’s World, then as editor of Earth Observation Magazine and GIS Monitor. His technical articles have been published in more than 20 professional magazines, including Professional Surveyor Magazine, Apogeo Spatial and xyHt. Luccio holds a master’s degree in political science from MIT. He can be reached at mluccio@northcoastmedia.net or 541-543-0525.