Engaging data for scooters, cars and trains

December 28, 2021  - By

Swift Navigation designs, manufactures and integrates GNSS receivers, as well as providing the Skylark wide-area GNSS corrections service. Its markets are automotive, transportation (last mile delivery, commercial trucking, rail), robotics/machine control (construction, mining, precision agriculture, landscaping), UAVs, micromobility and mobile devices and applications.

The company’s technology is compatible and interoperable with most major GNSS receivers for multiple markets. Its Starling positioning engine and Skylark corrections “are scalable to bring precision to legacy low-cost single-frequency receivers, all the way to the most sophisticated state-of-the-art triple-frequency multi-constellation systems,” said Joel Gibson, Swift’s executive vice president of Automotive. “By working with a multitude of receiver vendors for different applications, Swift leverages all constellations and all signals and maximizes the performance required for the application.”

The most accurate and reliable navigation system for every application would take advantage of all available GNSS signals, as well as all available corrections, dead reckoning and fused data from other sensors, such as cameras, lidar and radar. However, of course, that is not possible due to cost, size, weight and power considerations. Swift’s approach to the trade-offs required depends on each use case.


In the area of micromobility (such as scooters), the main constraints for implementing a positioning solution are cost and power, coupled with the challenge of satellite signal outages and multipath in dense urban environments where these vehicles primarily operate, Gibson explained. “Cost-effective dual-frequency GNSS receivers are now showing up in micromobility architectures. Pairing them with our Starling positioning engine, which integrates inertial sensor data and wheel ticks, and augmenting them with Skylark corrections data, makes it possible to meet such compliance requirements as geofencing and limiting sidewalk use.”

Additionally, by achieving decimeter-level positioning, Swift’s micromobility solution makes it easier for both users and service staff to find scooters, which increases the scooter companies’ revenues.

Photo: Swift Navigation

Photo: Swift Navigation


In the automotive industry, inertial sensors and wheel odometry are ubiquitous and pair naturally with GNSS to mitigate satellite signal outages, Gibson pointed out. Likewise, cameras and radar — cornerstones of ADAS — are very complementary to GNSS for safety applications, and lidar further complements GNSS in feature-rich environments such as dense urban areas.


Rail applications, such as Positive Train Control, have traditionally needed an accuracy of one or two meters, coupled with ruggedized hardware. “Swift’s precise positioning solution is deployed across continental rail systems today, and we are now engaging rail OEM and operator programs requiring sub-meter accuracy to ensure track-to-track accuracy and safety requirements in support of the transition to more autonomous rail operations,” said Gibson. “Leading rail companies are also looking for operational efficiencies by transitioning away from the high operational costs of maintaining reference base stations along track routes, instead moving to the more cost effective, reliable and seamless Skylark corrections coverage.”

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.