Ultra-wideband brings signals indoors

July 28, 2022  - By
Other sources, such as lidar, can be used to aid navigation in the absence of GNSS signals. (Photo: OxTS)

Other sources, such as lidar, can be used to aid navigation in the absence of GNSS signals. (Photo: OxTS)

We discussed complementary PNT with Peter Rylands, senior product manager at OxTS.

What are some of the most promising approaches to complementary PNT and how does simulation technology help?

There are two approaches of particular interest. The first is looking at LEO satellite systems that can provide supplementary and potentially more secure methods of navigation, with global coverage from a single system. But these will still suffer from some of the issues GNSS systems experience, namely, what happens when you can’t obtain a signal?

The second is the use of visual aiding through sensor fusion, such as lidar and cameras, that can provide relative positioning (or absolute positioning once you have a space mapped) using SLAM algorithms. While this may increase onboard hardware dependencies, it creates a localized navigation system that can be better protected from malicious actors.

In contrast, closed-loop systems can look to an infrastructure-based system, allowing free movement within the specific area in which the infrastructure is located and a potentially more reliable source of PNT, especially indoors, where GNSS is not available. Ultra-wideband is definitely the up-and-coming technology here, but systems using Wi-Fi, cameras, Bluetooth and others also are being used.

Simulation, as within many domains, allows users to test on a large scale with fewer barriers to entry than real-world testing and an ease in making iterative changes to find an optimal solution. Whether that is to benchmark performance in locations of interest or to change configuration settings to improve visibility or positioning, simulation allows you to do this without the expense of going straight into the environment itself or configuring the actual vehicle under test.

How does OxTS fit in that mix?

OxTS provides customers with the ability to navigate anywhere; whether for reference data in R&D, georeferencing for survey and mapping, or active navigation of autonomous solutions. To do this we provide an IMU-first offering that we then complement with other technologies. Traditionally, this is with GNSS, to form an INS that can provide centimeter-level accuracy. However, we are also aware of the vulnerabilities of GNSS. For us, this is when it becomes an unreliable source of PNT in denied areas, such as indoors, in urban canyons or under tree canopies.

Because of this, we are also investigating and developing complementary solutions that can enhance our offering for users who need confidence in their position even when GNSS is not available. Whether that is through sensor fusion, our Pozyx UWB solution for indoor navigation or other proprietary software and firmware capabilities.

What kinds of complementary PNT are most useful in addressing specifically the challenges posed by jamming and spoofing and how does simulation help?

We need to look at systems that cannot be impacted by, or have mitigations from, the impact of jamming and spoofing. Solutions that are independent of radio communications or satellite use are then valuable in providing this layer of protection. This is where we could look toward OxTS’s use of IMU technology and visual aiding systems. Simulation technologies would then allow you to run hardware-in-the-loop testing, where the primary GNSS solution can have simulated jamming and spoofing to understand the performance of your complementary and protected systems when GNSS cannot be trusted.

About the Author: Matteo Luccio

Matteo Luccio, GPS World’s Editor-in-Chief, possesses more than 20 years of experience as a writer and editor for GNSS and geospatial technology magazines. He began his career in the industry in 2000, serving as managing editor of GPS World and Galileo’s World, then as editor of Earth Observation Magazine and GIS Monitor. His technical articles have been published in more than 20 professional magazines, including Professional Surveyor Magazine, Apogeo Spatial and xyHt. Luccio holds a master’s degree in political science from MIT. He can be reached at mluccio@northcoastmedia.net or 541-543-0525.