New engineering team at NovAtel to deliver safe positioning technology for autonomous vehicles

May 20, 2016  - By

NovAtel Inc. announced a new initiative and engineering team to develop functionally safe GNSS positioning technology for fully autonomous applications. The company leverages its extensive experience developing safety-critical systems for the aviation industry to meet the future safety thresholds required for driverless cars and autonomous applications in agriculture, mining, and other government, military and commercial markets.

In early 2015, NovAtel formed a specialized Safety Critical Systems Group of engineers with backgrounds in functional safety as well as all aspects of GNSS and inertial navigation systems (INS) technology. The Safety Critical Systems Group is focused on creating positioning products that will meet the exceptional performance and safety requirements of autonomous vehicles at the necessary production volumes and at the required price point.

The company has extensive background working within safety critical requirements. Michael Ritter, president & CEO stated, “Aviation in North America relies on NovAtel technology to ensure safe navigation and landing.” Ritter added, “The Federal Aviation Administration’s WAAS, and other global Space Based Augmentation Systems (SBAS), have relied on certified NovAtel GNSS receivers for many years as the foundation of their systems. With full GNSS signal and constellation support needed to solve the performance criteria of autonomous driving, NovAtel is uniquely qualified to deliver the optimal solution that will keep us all safe as we drive the autonomous highways of the future.”

Jonathan Auld, Novatel's director of Safety Critical Systems.

Jonathan Auld, Novatel’s director of Safety Critical Systems.

NovAtel manufactures high-precision GNSS receivers, antennas and subsystems, with expertise in sensor integration, specifically that of GNSS and INS. Through its TerraStar correction service, NovAtel also offers a global Precise Point Positioning (PPP) correction solution that is already designed for safety-of-life applications.

With work underway for more than a year, NovAtel plans to achieve ISO/TS 16949 compliance by the end of 2016. This is an early key milestone in the Safety Critical Systems Group’s path, to be followed by an ISO 26262 compliant product.

Jonathan Auld is director of Safety Critical Systems at NovAtel. He first joined the company in 2000 and has held positions as a GNSS test engineer, test group manager, director of technology development, and director of portfolio management.

About the Author: Alan Cameron

Alan Cameron is the former editor-at-large of GPS World magazine.