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The System: Galileo Autonomous Fix, Indoor Nav Standards

April 1, 2013  - By
Measurements of individual Galileo horizontal position fixes performed for the first time using the four Galileo satellites in orbit plus the worldwide ground system between 1000 and 11:00 CET on Tuesday 12 March 2013, showing an overall horizontal accuracy over ESTEC in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, of 6.3 m.

Measurements of individual Galileo horizontal position fixes performed for the first time using the four Galileo satellites in orbit plus the worldwide ground system between 1000 and 11:00 CET on Tuesday 12 March 2013, showing an overall horizontal accuracy over ESTEC in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, of 6.3 m.

Galileo Logs First Autonomous Fix; Galileo over Canada (By James T. Curran, Mark Petovello, and Gérard Lachapelle); and Indoor Nav: Early Steps towards FCC Standards

Galileo Logs First Autonomous Fix

Entitling its release “From Orbit with Love,” the European Space Agency (ESA) announced March 12 that the four current satellites of the Galileo constellation achieved their first autonomous position fix. The feat was replicated by the NavSAS group of Politecnico di Torino, by GNSS manufacturer Septentrio, and by a University of Calgrary team as the four satellites appeared over North America.

The obtained accuracy lies in the 10-meter range, according to ESA, adding that this fulfills expectations, considering the infrastructure is only partly deployed. The fix was obtained by ESA’s Netherlands navigation lab, using the four satellites, launched in October 2011 and 2012, and the Galileo programme’s ground infrastructure: control centers in Italy and Germany and a global network of ground stations.

With only four satellites for the time being, the full Galileo constellation is visible at the same time for a maximum two to three hours daily. This frequency will increase as more satellites join the constellation in orbit, along with extra ground stations coming online, for Galileo’s early services to start at the end of 2014.

With the validation testing activities under way, users might experience breaks in the content of the navigation messages being broadcast, said ESA. In the coming months the messages will be further elaborated to define the offset between Galileo System Time and Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), enabling Galileo to be relied on for precision timing applications, as well as the Galileo to GPS Time Offset, ensuring interoperability with GPS.

NavSAS Confirmation. Almost simultaneously with the ESA announcement, the NavSAS group of Politecnico di Torino and Istituto Superiore Mario Boella in Turin, Italy, also achieved a position fix using the signals of the four In-Orbit Validation satellites (PFM, FM2, FM3, FM4). NavSAS researchers computed the positions using full software receivers developed by the team.

Septentrio, Too. Septentrio became the first receiver manufacturer to report an autonomous real-time position calculation using Galileo IOV satellites with its own standard commercial receiver. The company based in Leuven, Belgium announced on March 12 that it performed  standalone position calculated from in-orbit navigation messages using a standard PolaRx4 GNSS receiver equipped with commercially released firmware.

This achievement was followed by a further Septentrio release stating performance of what it believes to be the first 4-constellation PVT by a standard commercial receiver, on March 12 at approximately 10:35 UTC.

The milestone in all three accounts is that it is Galileo-only real-time positioning. Galileo positioning in post-processing mode was described by authors from the Technische Universität München and the German Space Operations Center, in a GPS World account, February 2012 issue.

Galileo over Canada

By James T. Curran, Mark Petovello, and Gérard Lachapelle

Within a day of activation over Europe, Galileo satellites were visible over North America. The PLAN Group of the University of Calgary captured and processed signals from Galileo PRN 11, 12, and 19 on E1B/C. The PLAN software GSNRx  simultaneously tracked GPS L1 and GLONASS L1 for combined solutions in real time.

The Galileo navigation message on E1B stated that the satellite health status is flagged as E1BHS=3 meaning “Signal Component currently in Test” and the data validity status is flagged as E1BDVS=1 meaning “Working without guarantee.” Current Galileo-ready commercial receivers may automatically discard measurements from a satellites broadcasting such messages. Parsing the received words in the I/NAV message, more than 50 percent were of type 0, although all words (types 0 to 10) were decoded at some point during the test.

Figure 1. 2D position errors.

Figure 1. 2D position errors.

Data was collected using a roof-mounted NovAtel 702GG antenna and an in-house two-channel digitizing front-end clocked by a high quality OCXO, in addition to a three-channel National Instruments front-end for post-processing. The two-channel intermediate frequency data was streamed live to a laptop computer for real-time processing with GSNRx. The GPS and GLONASS signals were tracked using a Kalman-filter-based tracking strategy while the Galileo signals were tracked using a specialized data-pilot algorithm.

Pseudorange and Doppler observations were extracted from the tracking strategies at a rate of 2 Hz. Single-frequency single-point position solutions were then computed for each of the three systems, each of the three pairs of systems and for the full combined Galileo-GLONASS-GPS. In the case of the three-satellite Galileo solution, the height was held fixed. Figure 1 shows 2D position errors with respect to antenna ITRF coordinates. Departures of the solutions involving GLONASS are likely due to orbital biases, given location of Calgary with respect to GLONASS ground stations.

Figure 2. Pseudorange residuals.

Figure 2. Pseudorange residuals.

Next, by fixing the known position in the solution and solving only for the three clock biases, accurate pseudorange residuals were computed and are shown Figure 2. Galileo PRN 19, launched a year later than PRN 11 and 12, exhibits larger residuals, perhaps attributable to ephemeris or orbital errors. The overall results show very good consistency of the Galileo results and the PLAN Group equipment and GSNRx receiver.

Indoor Nav: Early Steps towards FCC Standards

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on March 14 released two reports from its Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council (CSRIC): the “Indoor Location Test Bed Report,” and “Leveraging LBS and Emerging Location Technologies for Indoor Wireless E9-1-1.”
They report on Bay Area tests of technology from NextNav, Polaris Wireless, and Qualcomm, in four representative morphologies (dense urban, urban, suburban, rural) and various building types. They are available online, via, are the subject of an Expert Advice column (see page 10), and will be more fully discussed in May issue.  For now, this summary from the first-named report:

“Seven location vendors/technologies began the process to demonstrate their performance indoors through the common test bed, but only three completed the process. Of these three, two technologies (AGPS/AFLT and RF Fingerprinting) are already in common use for emergency services, while the third (metropolitan beacons) is not yet commercially available. However all technologies tested demonstrated relativity high yield and various levels of accuracy in indoor environments.

“Significant standards work is required for practical implementation of many emerging location technologies for emergency services use.

“Many positioning methods require handset modifications. Integration of these modified handsets into the subscriber base, once the location technology is commercially available, will take years to complete.

“Progress has been made in the ability to achieve significantly improved search rings in both a horizontal and vertical dimension. However, even the best location technologies tested have not proven the ability to consistently identify the specific building and floor, which represents the required performance to meet Public Safety’s expressed needs. This is not likely to change over the next 12–24 months. Various technologies have projected improved performance in the future, but none of those claims have yet been proven through the test bed process. It is hoped that such technologies would be tested and validated in future test bed campaigns.”

An April 16 GPS World Webinar covers this topic with test participants. Registration is free.

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About the Author:

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

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