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EGNSS at the core of the drone revolution
The European GNSS (EGNSS) is at the core of the drone revolution and future U-space services. EGNOS and Galileo provide significant added value to drone navigation, positioning, and related applications, and the use of their differentiators will be instrumental in developing new business opportunities. Receiver manufacturers, well aware of the benefits that GNSS can bring to the users, are eager to adopt Galileo and EGNOS and pass on these advantages to their users.
A growing number of drone applications require accurate positioning information. According to the 2019 GSA’s GNSS Market Report survey, almost 50% of drone users expect a horizontal accuracy of below 10 cm and 38% a vertical accuracy of below 10cm. This increased performance is critical for multiple drone applications and is not achievable without any GNSS signal augmentation. The EGNOS Open Service can augment GPS signal to a minimum accuracy of 3 metres in the horizontal and 4 metres in the vertical planes compared to 17 and 37 metres for non-augmented GPS.
Whether used for guiding drones automatically back to the operator, building inspection or just maintaining geo-awareness to avoid obstacles or no fly zones, GNSS has become a ‘must have’ for drone operators. With Galileo satellites in addition to GPS, drones may use signals from more satellites as well as dual frequency to determine their position, which improves the accuracy and also increases the availability of received signals.
EGNSS receivers for drones are already populating the market, with Europe supplying around 12% drone receivers worldwide. Companies like u-Blox, Septentrio, Novatel, and Javad have been the early adopters of Galileo and EGNOS and invested in the technology now revolutionising the drone industry. Thanks to this forward thinking companies, EGNSS is now a standard feature for the drones and to date, there are 190 EGNOS-capable or Galileo-ready chipsets and modules available in the market.
The urban environment can pose various challenges to the reception of GNSS signals. Galileo-enabled, multi-constellation receivers provide significantly better performances. Earlier this year, the EGNSS4RPAS Project performed EGNSS-enabled drone flight trials. The results demonstrated that the use of Galileo in dual constellation with GPS notably improves accuracy compared to GPS-only for both the horizontal and vertical dimension.