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Launchpad: New modules, UAVs take flight

March 9, 2020  - By

A roundup of recent products in the GNSS and inertial positioning industry from the March 2020 issue of GPS World magazine.


NavIC modules

Support both L1 and L5 bands

Photo: Allystar

Photo: Allystar

The dual-band multi-GNSS modules TAU1202 and TAU1205 support both the L1 and L5 bands to enhance sub-meter positioning accuracy. Constellations received include GPS, Galileo, GLONASS, BeiDou, QZSS and NavIC. Besides the L1 band, TAU1202 and TAU1205 also support L5/B2a/E5a, which are expected to have lower noise and significantly reduced multipath mitigation because of the higher chipping rate of L5 signals relative to L1 C/A code. TAU1205 supports NavIC (IRNSS), improving navigation in India and the Middle East. Powered by the Cynosure III GNSS chipset and with built-in low-noise amplifier and surface acoustic wave (SAW) filter, TAU1202 and TAU1205 provide higher sensitivity, ensuring exceptional acquisition and tracking performance even in weak signal areas.

Allystar Technology,

L5 mass-market module

Dual-Frequency chip uses new signals

Photo: Broadcom

Photo: Broadcom

The BCM47765 dual-frequency GNSS module is capable of using the BeiDou-3 constellation’s B2a signals (the Chinese indicator for L5). It can track 30 new L5 signals (60% more) with a significant impact on accuracy. End users will experience much higher reliability of the submeter accuracy inherent to dual-frequency L1/L5. The enhanced L5 signal improves the accuracy of GNSS in an urban scenario by mitigating reflections from nearby buildings (multipath). It also improves GNSS in an open-sky scenario, allowing for submeter accuracy. Second generation dual-frequency GNSS will enable lane-level driving navigation, allowing applications to know in which highway lane a vehicle travels.


Atomic clock

Next-gen timing in a tiny package

Photo: Microchip

Photo: Microchip

The MAC-SA5X miniaturized rubidium atomic clock is a high-performance atomic clock that delivers a wide thermal range, critical performance improvements and other enhancements over previous clocks. The MAC-SA5X produces a stable time and frequency reference that maintains a high degree of synchronization to a reference clock, such as a GNSS-derived signal. Its low monthly drift rate, short-term stability and stability during temperature changes allows the device to maintain precise frequency and timing during extended periods of holdover during GNSS outages or for applications where large rack-mounted clocks are not possible. Operating over a temperature range of –40 to +75 Celsius, the MAC-SA5X is designed to quickly achieve atomic stability performance with a fast lock.

Microchip Technology,

Correction receiver

Centimeter-level accuracy for consumer devices

Photo: u-blox

Photo: u-blox

The NEO-D9S GNSS correction data receiver module provides an affordable approach to bringing centimeter-level accuracy to GNSS receivers. The NEO-D9S receives corrections from correction service providers broadcast on the L-band (1525–1559 MHz). A host processor can then decrypt this correction data and provide it to a high-precision GNSS receiver, combining corrections directly with readings from the satellite constellations to enable much more accurate position readings than those offered by GNSS signals alone. Use of the NEO-D9S will also increase the availability of high-precision GNSS positioning data in areas with limited connectivity and reduce the amount of cellular data consumed by positioning receivers. Expected customers are Tier 1 and OEM carmakers, industrial system integrators, and any other applications that rely on very accurate positioning at low cost. The NEO-D9S module is a correction-only receiver. Based on the latest u-blox ninth-generation (D9) platform, it will integrate easily with the u-blox F9 RTK GNSS receivers from u-blox, or can be used as part of a modular product roadmap.


Mobile platforms

Dual-frequency systems on chip

Image: Qualcomm

Image: Qualcomm

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G, 662 and 460 enable enhanced user experiences across connectivity, gaming and entertainment. The new mobile platforms support dual-frequency (L1 and L5) GNSS to improve location positioning accuracy and robustness. The system-on-chip solutions also support NavIC. For the first time on mobile, the Qualcomm Location Suite supports up to seven satellite constellations concurrently, including NavIC.

Qualcomm Technologies,


Survey drone

VTOL option available

Photo: FlyTech UAV

Photo: FlyTech UAV

Dedicated to surveying and agriculture, the UAV Birdie is tailor-made, combining intuitive use and high-quality data through precise sensors and GPS RTK L1/L2 onboard. Features include a 24-megapixel camera or optional full-frame 42-megapixel camera; flight time up to 60 minutes; and coverage up to 8 square kilometers in one flight. A vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) upgrade is available.

FlyTech UAV,

Inspection drone

Five-hour flight time

Photo: Skyfront

Photo: Skyfront

Skyfront’s Perimeter 8 drone is equipped with Silvus Technologies’ SteamCaster Radio system, a powerful user-customizable radio system for the military, police and broadcast. The new long-range drone will allow operators to inspect pipelines and other assets as well as conduct long-range surveillance missions. The octocopter can fly for five hours and travel up to 100 kilometers without losing connection from the ground station. Currently, five models are available to suit uses including mapping, lidar and medium, long, or extra-long surveillance. SteamCaster radio system uses the latest beam-forming technology, spatial multiplexing, and space-time coding to ensure the drone can be controlled in environments in which other radio systems are likely to fail. The combination of the technologies allows the range to be increased from 40% to 100%. SteamCaster comes with SteamScape, a network management interface to allow for key metrics and statistics to be viewed and collected in real time. The system also allows the drone to be overlayed onto a map showing the current location and path of the drone.

Silvus Technologies,

Transformable drone

Delivers critical tools on the ground or in the air

Photo: Robotic Research

Photo: Robotic Research

The Pegasus Mini is a smaller version of the Pegasus, a hybrid unmanned aircraft system/unmanned ground vehicle. The Pegasus hybrid UAS/UGV configuration delivers advanced GPS-denied mapping with fully autonomous high-speed flying and driving capabilities. Pegasus Mini is designed to provide the extra reach that a UAV or UGV alone cannot provide. Uses include inspection, rescue, rapid response, and applications that strongly benefit organizations in oil and gas, public transportation, law enforcement, public safety, and more.

Robotic Research,

Electric drone

ISR UAV designed for long flight

Photo: Silent Falcon UAS Technologies

Photo: Silent Falcon UAS Technologies

The Silent Falcon E1 UAV has completed 500 hours of successful flight testing and operations. It’s maker, Silent Falcon UAS Technologies (SFUAS), is based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The E1 solar-electric, fixed-wing UAV is noise free, emission free, and provides long-range, low-cost intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability. It has a payload capacity of 20 pounds and a ceiling of 20,000 feet above ground level. SFUAS has an application pending before the FAA for type certification of the E1. The 500-hour milestone confirms for federal regulators that it is safe and durable. Silent Falcon aircraft have operated in eight foreign countries and are not ITAR restricted.

Silent Falcon UAS Technologies,

High-definition GNSS

Enables submeter positioning

Image: HERE Technologies

Image: HERE Technologies

The High Definition (HD) GNSS cloud-based solution enables mass-market devices to achieve sub-meter accuracy across the globe. HD GNSS enables lane-level navigation, augmented reality and virtual reality. It combines precise point positioning (PPP) and real-time kinematic (RTK) positioning methods, allowing for fast convergence time, high availability and global coverage. It also supports off-the-shelf mobile devices and internet of things (IoT) trackers equipped with dual-frequency chipsets.

HERE Technologies,

GNSS/INS module

Open design for developers

Photo: Aceinna

Photo: Aceinna

The OpenRTK330L GNSS/INS module is designed for developers creating guidance and navigation systems for autonomous vehicles, robots, drones, industrial, construction and agricultural machinery. OpenRTK330L is a low-cost, high-performance triple-band RTK/GNSS receiver coupled with redundant inertial sensor arrays to provide cm-level accuracy, enhanced reliability, and superior performance during GNSS outages. The module is aimed at automotive, robot, drone, construction and agriculture systems. The multi-band GNSS receiver can monitor all global constellations (GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, Galileo, QZSS, NavIC, SBAS) and simultaneously track up to 80 channels. The module has RF and baseband support for the L1, L2 and L5 GPS bands and their international constellation signal equivalents.


About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.