Project to boost sat nav positioning accuracy

The University of Nottingham, UK, is set to exploit Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) to establish a blueprint for the world’s most accurate real-time positioning service.

The EU-funded TREASURE project, will integrate signals from satellite navigation systems such as GPS, launched by the US, alongside Russia’s GLONASS, China’s BeiDou and Europe’s Galileo system.

Combining these different satellite systems to operate together is a new development known as multi-GNSS.

The service, to be developed at prototype level, aims to benefit safety-critical industries like aviation and maritime navigation, as well as high accuracy dependent applications such as offshore drilling and production operations, dredging, construction, agriculture and driverless cars and drones.

The four-year project will focus on a service that will take the current use of GNSS – normally based on just one or two systems – further, to provide accuracy of a few centimetres in real time.

One of the key aspects of the research is to mitigate the effects of the atmosphere.

The project aims to develop new error models, positioning algorithms and data assimilation techniques to monitor, predict and correct not only the effects of the atmosphere but also signal degradation due to man-made sources of interference, which can also limit positioning accuracy.

Project leader, Dr Marcio Aquino, from the Nottingham Geospatial Institute said: “A highly-accurate multi-GNSS service could, for instance, assist demanding terrestrial applications like precision agriculture, giving farmers access to real-time precisely located data gathering and analysis to maximise food production, reduce costs and minimise pesticide use.

“On the other side of the spectrum, a deep-sea drilling platform that experiences any temporary degradation of positioning accuracy could lead to phenomenal losses right at a time when, due to the current oil production climate, companies are striving to increase operational efficiency. This industry would also benefit from such an accurate multi-GNSS service.”

TREASURE brings together four top universities, one research institute and four leading European companies.