Sep 2016 | No Comment

Improving Satellite Navigation in the Far North

The Norwegian research ship Gunnerus, part of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, is seeking to emulate the technology used by Europe’s Geostationary Navigation Overlay System, or EGNOS. EGNOS is currently in use in Europe and contains about 40 ground monitoring stations that measure GPS signals, creating a more precise map for users to interact with when they are on the go.

The ionosphere is particularly active in polar areas, creating a more difficult environment to get a satellite signal. The researchers hope to gain more knowledge as to how the ionosphere more specifically affects satellites, and how to move around these obstacles to create satellite augmentation in this area.

The Norwegian vessel is testing potential improvements to the Satellite-Based Augmentation System, or SBAS, for these northern regions. This project would utilize ground monitoring stations in Russia and combine them with the northernmost ground monitoring stations for EGNOS. The research crew hopes that their new information will help expand GPS in the Polar Regions to overlap with Europe, Russia, and the United States.

Uttar Pradesh Police, India selects Hexagon

Uttar Pradesh Police, the largest police force in India, has selected an integrated suite of public safety software from Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure to enhance call handling, officer dispatching and agency-wide reporting in India’s most populous state. Hexagon’s industryleading Intergraph Computer-Aided Dispatch (I/CAD) will form the basis for the largest police emergency response system in India, and possibly the largest in the world, serving 220 million people.

Uttar Pradesh Police will be the first Indian state police force to implement an integrated emergency operation center (EOC) at its capital city of Lucknow. The software will deliver map-based views of calls, events and units in the field to 246 call takers and 114 dispatchers.

Ingrid Daubechies receives Simons grant

Ingrid Daubechies, a prominent mathematician whose pioneering work on wavelets is the foundation for various consumer products and GNSS applications, has received a $1.5 million grant from the Simons Foundation. Daubechies is the James B. Duke Professor of Mathematics and Electrical and Computer Engineering at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

Status updates to GPS-Aided Collision Avoidance System

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) last week released a status update that calls for railroads to roll out Positive Train Control (PTC) technologies, which incorporates GNSS technology, as soon as possible. The update also underscores the Obama administration’s calls to provide more funding to assist commuter railroads in implementing PTC.

PTC uses GNSS, but mostly GPS, to prevent train-to-train collisions, highspeed derailments, and the unauthorized movement of trains into work zones. The FRA’s status update includes railroad-byrailroad quarterly data as of June 30, 2016. The report also includes on-track segments completed, employees trained, radio towers installed, route miles in PTC operation, and other key implementation data.

Russia develops Hi-Tech jammer to block enemy electronics

An integrated jamming system to screen strategic facilities from cruise missiles, smart bombs and drones using GPS, GLONASS, Galileo and Beidou GNSS for homing has entered service with the Russian armed forces. Russian Airborne Troops to Include Drone, Electronic Warfare Units by 2017 Dubbed as POLE- 21, the system consists of jamming modules installed on mobile phone towers and working as a single whole to cover entire areas and making them impregnable to satellite navigation systems. Besides being powered by a tower’s circuit, the Pole-21 modules also use their GSM antennas as a backup channel for signal control and transmission. All the four GNSS whose signals are effectively deflected by Pole-21 work within the 1176.45 and 1575.42 MHz range. Even a 20 watt transmitter is enough for Pole- 21 to jam all signals in this range within a radius of 80 kilometers. Pole-21 has one downside though. While generating radio interference against the enemy using the GPS satellite navigation systems, it does the same to domestic users of GPS and its Russian analogue – GLONASS.

Unmanned Harvester using Glonass

Russia is set to develop unmanned agricultural machinery running on the Russian Glonass navigation system by 2018. The technology will be developed by the Ruselectronics holding, represented by the Progress Microelectronic Research Institute (JSC Progress MRI) design center, for the Rostselmash agricultural equipment company. “After the completion of development work in two years’ time, we will be able to provide unmanned machinery [for the agricultural sector] – an operator may be present, but rather for control in case of unforeseen situations. There seem to be no particular dangers in an open field,” according to first deputy CEO for development and researches at JSC Progress Igor Korneyev.

Galileo satellites to start broadcasting navigation messages

According to two Notice Advisories to Galileo Users (NAGUs), the two Galileo satellites launched into elliptical orbits in August 2014, GSAT0201 using PRN code E18 and GSAT0202 using PRN code E14, will start transmitting navigation messages for test purposes. The Signal Health Status (SHS) flags will be set to “Test” and the Data Validity Status (DVS) flags will be set to WWG (working without guarantee). The satellites will not be included in the broadcast almanacs. Users are requested to provide feedback on usage of GSAT0201 and GSAT0202 by contacting the help desk on the European GNSS Service Centre web portal.

Space weather forecasts to eliminate GPS mistakes

Researchers from RMIT are borrowing the Bureau of Meteorology’s supercomputer capacity at NCI to crunch through calculations they hope will predict how ‘disturbances’ in the earth’s atmosphere could be putting GPS off track. Brett Carter, a research fellow in space weather and physics, is leading a team studying how the layer of charged particles surrounding the earth, known as the ‘ionosphere’, affects GPS readings – and how this knowledge could make the technology more accurate.

“Any disturbance that start at sun and arrive at the Earth through the solar wind and the magnetosphere affects the plasma in the upper atmosphere,” Carter said. “Because it’s a medium of charged particles, when you pass radio waves through it, radio waves are affected by electrons inside the plasma.”

These pockets of different atmospheric density slow down radio waves as they pass through between orbiting satellites and GPS-enabled devices on the ground. These disturbances – also known as GPS interpolation events or plasma bubbles – happen almost every day somewhere around the world. In areas close to the equator, from June to September, there is around a 50 percent chance of a disturbance happening on any given day. This can alter GPS location calculations which are based on the assumption that all radio waves are travelling at the same speed, he said.

The researchers will attempt to generate forecasts based on data gathered from GPS ground stations, along with the US COSMIC-2 low Earth orbit satellite constellation, which is set to launch over the next 12 months.

Breaking barriers for people living with vision loss

Researchers at McGill University have developed an innovative technology so Canadians living with vision loss can better navigate the world around them. After successfully testing its Autour application in Montréal, and with funding from the Canadian Internet Registration Authority’s Community Investment Program, the McGill team has launched an expanded version of the app to include cities across Canada.

The app overlays GPS, Google Maps, public transit and other data to provide audible instructions and descriptions to help guide users’ movements. Usability is a key factor making Autour the app of choice for the blind and visually impaired community. The expanded Autour features a new tutorial to give users a clear understanding of how the app works. The tutorial can even be used indoors, and in other environments where GPS may not be available.


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