GPS Inside – March 2002

February 21, 2002  - By
Image: GPS World

NovAtel Names Ladd CEO

NovAtel Inc. of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, appointed Jonathan W. Ladd as president and chief executive officer, effective February 19, 2002. Jim Close, chairman of NovAtel, named Ladd to succeed David Vaughn, who had filled the positions since February 2001. Vaughn will continue in a consulting capacity.

Ladd recently served as senior vice president engineering and president at Magellan Corporation’s Russian subsidiary, Ashtech A/O, and has held other senior management positions at Magellan.

NovAtel also appointed Charles R. Trimble to the company’s board of directors. Trimble co-founded Trimble Navigation Limited and served as its president and CEO from 1981 to 1998. He holds four patents in signal processing and several in GPS, and currently serves as chairman of the U.S. GPS Industry Council (USGIC). He has a masters degree in electrical engineering from the California Institute of Technology.

Spirent’s PPS Simulator: U.S. Subsidiary Targets DoD

Spirent Communications has announced the formation of a subsidiary, Global Secure Systems, to provide classified GPS simulation products to the U.S. Department of Defense. These will include equipment capable of generating the Precise Positioning Service (PPS) signal and the new military M-code.

A wholly owned business group of UK-based Spirent plc, Spirent Communications has established Global Secure Systems under a proxy agreement with the U.S. Defense Security Service to enable the company to compete for U.S. government contracts that require classified security clearances.

Global Secure Systems will be based in Yorba Linda, California, and led by a three-member team with extensive experience in U.S. security and defense operations. Ellen Hall, president and CEO, has more than 20 years experience in the aerospace industry, most recently as vice president of L-3 Communications’ Interstate Electronics Corporation. Former U.S. Secretary of the Navy Larry Garrett will serve as chairman of the board for the new company. Jack Devine, previously deputy director for technology and systems at the U.S. National Security Agency, will also sit on the company’s board.

Steve Naylor, formerly Spirent Communications’ government sales manager, will serve as vice-president of business development for Global Secure Systems.

Currently, Spirent Communications claims to hold about 65 percent of the GPS satellite simulator market on sales of products developed by its Global Simulation Systems division development team based in Paignton, Devonshire, UK, and headed by Peter Boulton.

Spirent currently supplies unclassified simulators to the GPS Joint Program Office (JPO) and other U.S. defense agencies, which then enhance the equipment with classified hardware and software. The Global Secure proxy agreement will allow the company to build and deliver complete PPS-capable equipment, says Hall.

Spirent Global Simulation already markets PPS-capable products to European members of NATO who have signed a memorandum of understanding with the JPO. Global Secure hopes to have a pseudo-M-code simulator available soon and a full M-code simulator on the market within the next year or so.

GPS Rides Cable Cars, Olympic Trains

The city of San Francisco has contracted with NextBus Information Systems of Emeryville, California, to provide real-time arrival information for its public transit system’s (MUNI) fleet of a thousand-plus buses and trains. Even San Francisco’s 19th-century cable cars will carry the GPS-based system. NextBus systems track selected routes in 20 U.S. public transit systems, but San Francisco now becomes the first city to equip its entire fleet. The $9.6 million contract calls for installation on all lines within five years, and includes 430 electronic information signs at transit stops across the city.

Each bus or train will carry an AirLink Pinpoint unit combining a 12-channel Conexant Jupiter 11 GPS receiver with a cellular digital packet data (CDPD) modem to track and transmit location, vehicle ID, current route assignment, and other data to the NextBus information center. (SiRF Technology acquired Conexant’s GPS chipset business in July 2001 and now supports the Zodiac chipset within the Jupiter receiver. Conexant continues to make the Jupiter board.)

NextBus estimates vehicle arrivals at stops along the line by factoring in actual position, intended stops, and typical traffic patterns.

Passengers can view vehicle location and estimated arrival times on electronic signs at transit stops, on wireless devices such as PDAs and cell phones, and at the NextBus website. They can reduce waiting times and exposure to weather, and receive web alerts when their bus reaches a certain distance from home or office. A 2001 Delaware trial increased route ridership by 13.5 percent. The system also increases transit managers’ ability to respond to unexpected events in real time.
NextBus operated a three-month trial run in San Francisco in summer 1999, along the #22 Fillmore route. After positive rider response, the city asked NextBus to extend the service to metro trains and to include transit information on the Internet as well as at the stops.

Winter Olympics. The million-plus train riders at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City rode to their events informed by a tracking system from GeoFocus, of Boca Raton, Florida. Hardware installed by Utah Transit Authority on its light rail cars includes two Ashtech G8 receivers on each of 33 cars, plus 24 “rovers” aboard loaner cars borrowed for the Olympics. The system provides audio and text messaging at 20 stations, notifying passengers when the next train will arrive.

Geofocus, a Sumitomo Corporation subsidiary, also installed its TrainTrac system on 264 trains serving 11 commuter lines in the Chicago METRA System in December 2001. These units incorporate Trimble Lassen SK2 receivers.

Chinese GPS Group

The International Association of Chinese Professionals in Global Positioning Systems (CPGPS) is a new non-profit professional organization whose members are Chinese and other interested professionals from academic institutions and industrial sectors in Asia, Australia, Europe and North America.

The association’s electronic publication, the Journal of Global Positioning Systems, will deliver research findings, report progress, and exchange ideas. The CPGPS will also develop research programs and establish a newsletter for advice, consultation and debating of GPS issues. For further information see the organization’s web page

IEC SAASM, Missile Defense

The Interstate Electronics Corporation (IEC) division of L-3 Communications has introduced its TruTrak 12-channel Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module (SAASM)-based GPS receiver for military applications. TruTrak meets high-G platform requirements but is also configurable for range, avionics, or handheld navigation platforms. The company states C/A and P(Y)-code signal acquisition of less than three seconds. Derived from IEC’s projectile receivers, it may be operated tightly coupled to an optional 6-DOF external inertial measurement unit, allowing very narrow bandwidth tracking in the presence of intentional or incidental interference.

TruTrak will track up to 12 satellites simultaneously. (The GPS Receiver Survey in the January issue of GPS World erroneously identified it as a 6-channel receiver.)

Meanwhile, IEC has also received a three-year, $6 million contract to support the Ground-based Midcourse Defense Segment (GMDS) under the U.S. Army Strategic Missile Defense Command. IEC will supply 30 digital GPS translators and two GPS translator processors, engineering, logistics, and field launch support. The GPS translator units will support GMDS by providing post-mission flight measurement and range safety tracking of simulated warhead and booster stages of interceptor kill vehicles.

NEC Puts SiRF in Driver’s Seat

SiRF Technology and NEC Electronics (Europe), based in Dusseldorf, Germany, have announced a licensing agreement to integrate SiRF’s GPS technology into NEC’s integrated circuits designed for the automotive marketplace. The partnership targets oncoming multimedia navigation systems in standard as well as luxury cars.

NEC will integrate the SiRFstarII GPS baseband core to location-enable its automotive products, the first of them a low-cost navigation companion chip, incorporating an ARM7TDMI core with on-chip GPS and signal preprocessing capability for a host central processing unit. The companies plan sample chip availability in the third quarter, with volume production likely by the end of the year. NEC also plans to develop non-automotive applications based on the SiRFstar technology.

Z/I, Applanix Units Score

Aerial photography provider Simmons Aerofilms has selected the POS Z/I 510 position and orientation system with inertial measurement unit from Z/I Imaging, the joint venture of Intergraph Corporation and Carl Zeiss. The system is Z/I’s OEM version of the Applanix POS/AV-DG, with NovAtel’s Millennium GPScard.

Integrating inertial sensors, GPS, and post-processing software, the system measures the camera’s absolute position and orientation angles of each image with stated accuracy of 5–10 centimeters and 20–30 arcsec respectively. The unit allows direct georeferencing of aerial photographs without aerial triangulation and with minimal ground control, reducing overall costs.

Shaanxi Meihang Digital Surveying group, China’s largest surveying, remote sensing, and mapping enterprise, has chosen Z/I’s Digital Modular Camera (DMC) for urban construction, field archaeology, disaster investigation, and other applications. The differential GPS-equipped DMC uses eight synchronously operating cameras to mosaic converging panchromatic images for reported ground resolutions better than two inches. The DMC uses a NovAtel OEM4 receiver for position and a 12-channel Garmin receiver for navigation.

CSI Ag, GIS Entry

CSI Wireless has launched its SERES GPS receiver/antenna combination for precision agriculture, geographic information systems (GIS), and mapping applications. In addition to GPS, the unit uses dual-channel tracking to receive signals from the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) and the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay System (EGNOS). The unit’s 12-channel Zarlink receiver reportedly delivers sub-meter horizontal accuracy with differential GPS (DGPS). Measuring 4.1 32.7531.1 inches, SERES can function as the positioning element of a precision guidance system or as a backpack-
mounted unit providing data to a hand-held unit for GIS or mapping.

Leica GeoMoS

Leica Geosystems has introduced its Geodetic Monitoring System (GeoMoS), a software package for precise deformation monitoring and analysis. Designed to support single-sensor monitoring stations or multi-sensor networks for bridges, tunnels, dams, mines, volcanoes, and high-rise buildings, GeoMoS integrates data from GPS receivers, strain gauges, and meteorological sensors into a single network. It monitors real-time movements and issues alerts of any movements beyond pre-defined tolerances.

The European Navigation Conference (GNSS 2002) takes place May 27-30 in Copenhagen, Denmark, hosted by the European Group of Institutes of Navigation and the Nordic Institute of Navigation. Conference themes include GNSS status, architecture, and implementation; Galileo; interoperability and standardization; navigation infrastructure and development; system applications and user experiences; political and institutional issues; and future developments. For details e-mail <>, or see web site.

The Ninth GNSS Workshop (2002 International Symposium) has issued a call for papers for a conference scheduled November 6-8 in Wuhan, China. Themes include GPS/GNSS status, modernization, and augmentations; navigational and positioning infrastructure; receiver and antenna technology; and applications in range of fields. Email abstracts to <>, or fax them to +86-27-87876495-13, before April 30.

Trimble, located in Sunnyvale, California, announced total revenue for 2001 of $475.3 million. Fleet and Asset management revenues were 12 percent, Components Technologies 12 percent, Agriculture 5 percent and Portfolio Technologies 7 percent. Trimble raised $46 million in a private equity placement in 2001, sold its airline operations, and acquired the Spectra Precision Group and software developer Tripod Data Systems.

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