NovAtel pioneers autonomous solutions with positioning engine, corrections services, integrity research

May 2, 2018  - By
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NovAtel has demonstrated high-accuracy positioning performance using automotive-grade GNSS chipsets Teseo APP and Teseo V from STMicroelectronics. Combining automotive-grade multi-frequency GNSS chipsets with positioning algorithms and correction services from NovAtel improves the achievable positioning accuracy available to automotive users and provides a solution suitable for autonomous operation.

According to the company, these chipsets provide multi-frequency GNSS data for precise point positioning (PPP) and real-time kinematic (RTK) to enable accurate positioning capabilities. Teseo APP features built-in integrity checking for use in safety-critical systems, whereas Teseo V is used for non-safety-critical precise positioning applications.

The collaboration between the two companies is designed to reach car manufacturers and Tier 1 suppliers for future production models.

Driven Today. “STMicro is one of many chipset manufacturers coming to market with dual-frequency chipsets targeting the automotive sector,” said Jonathan Auld, VP Engineering and Safety Critical Systems for NovAtel. “We are taking advantage of their expertise in automotive measurement engines for high-volume, cost-effective reliable positioning. NovAtel brings high-precision algorithm expertise and integration with global corrections supplied by Hexagon Correction Services to this initiative.”

NovAtel’s positioning engine combines the GNSS measurements from these chipsets with inertial measurement unit (IMU) data and Hexagon Correction Services to deliver centimeter-level PPP positioning solutions in real time.

“Working closely with STMicroelectronics allowed us to innovate and drastically reduce time to market of our assured positioning solution tailored specifically for safe positioning of autonomous vehicles,” added Auld.

Comparison of GNSS Performance possible in automotive today (red), L1 automotive with corrections (green) and L1/L2 automotive with corrections (blue).

Driverless Tomorrow. “Precise absolute positioning is just one piece of the overall autonomous vehicle puzzle and must be done with safety and integrity concepts in mind.” Auld pointed to the partnership announced in 2016 between NovAtel, the Illinois Institute of Technology, and Stanford University to conduct leading-edge research to determine how GNSS technology can deliver a positioning solution that meets both the safety and accuracy requirements of autonomous automotive vehicles.

Previous research by academia and industry into GNSS integrity produced the successful WAAS program for aviation. The new work underway will extend the scope to include the autonomous ground vehicle use case. The research includes updated and expanded concepts for high-integrity carrier-phase algorithms as well as expanded threat models and safety monitors.

At the Automotive Tech.AD in Berlin, Auld added: “Today the primary use case for positioning in navigation is single-frequency GNSS, with up to 2 constellations, using narrowband RF and antennas, obtaining accuracy at the 1–2 meter level. This is primarily done with pseudorange-based positioning techniques, with some carrier-phase assistance. There are no functional safety standards, and so safety data is provided on the output solution.”

Autonomous Requirements. By contrast, he continued, autonomous operation will require lane-level and better accuracy: 3D centimeter to decimeter absolute positioning. This means multi-frequency, multi-constellation receivers and antennas to improve overall accuracy and increase available measurements. It will also require increased availability through sensor fusion with IMUs and other sensors. All of this must be brought together through a functionally safe development process targeted at ISO26262 Automotive Safety Integrity Level (ASIL) B.

Moving from meter to centimeter level position requires additional processing to handle all the added signals coming in; residual monitoring and observation exclusion, and carrier phase, “the key to centimeter-level positioning,” as opposed to code phase. The vehicle’s localization system must include enhanced positioning algorithms for multipath mitigation, a fast converging corrections network, enhanced Kalman Filters, and sophisticated sensor fusion.

Flexible Integration. NovAtel’s positioning engine architecture enables a flexible integration with different GNSS receiver chipsets, augmentation sensors and processor environments, providing automotive manufacturers with additional flexibility when it comes to sourcing of components and subsystems of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous driving solutions.

The positioning engine is being developed to ASIL-B standards and will include a proprietary GNSS integrity solution to ensure safe positioning within defined protection limits tailored to the customer’s application requirements.

About the Author:


Tracy Cozzens has served as managing editor of GPS World magazine since 2006, and also is editor of GPS World’s 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.

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