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Playing in the OEM world means strong and efficient technical support!

Oct 2012 | No Comment

An interview with Olivier Casabianca, Portfolio Manager, Integrated Technologies at Ashtech, a Trimble Company about ABX series GNSS sensors and newly launched OEM Boards

How do you ensure the quality of your products that makes them reliable?

Ashtech has been designing advanced devices for more than 25 years with numerous patents in GNSS technology. For OEMs, quality and reliability is key and is the number one selection criteria from our customers. Everybody in the company is working to maintain high quality products… and even to improve!

What are the key differentiating features of the Z-blade technology?

Z-Blade has been designed to escape from GPS reliance. Indeed, most of the GNSS (RTK) engines have been designed under the GPS-only era. They have been adapted later on in order to absorb other constellations, but always with GPS as a prerequisite, i.e., ‘no GPS, no position’!
Thus in difficult environments, a GNSS receiver may not provide a (RTK) solution just because it does not track enough GPS satellites even if GLONASS is there.

Playing in the OEM world means strong and efficient technical support! Z-Blade allows receivers to use equally any satellite available. You do not need 4 GPS satellites to maintain a RTK fixed position. You just need 4 satellites which can be 2 GPS + 2 GLONASS.
This is what we call a GNSScentric engine, in opposition to a GPS-centric one. This approach allows us to provide any kind of constellation-only position, i.e., GLONASS- only solution, from standalone to RTK, which is available from our OEM receivers. Tomorrow, it could be GALILEO only, COMPASS only or full GNSS.

The ABX100 is pegged as a ‘smart, simple and rugged sensor’. What more goes into the making of this device?

ABX Series are state-of-theart GNSS sensors intended for general-purpose, real-time, highaccuracy, absolute positioning applications with additionally accurate heading measurements and relative positioning for some of the available models.

All receivers from the ABX series share the same weatherproof, lightweight, small size and rugged enclosure capable of accommodating either one GNSS MB100 board (ABX100), one GNSS MB800 board (ABX800) or two GNSS MB800 boards (ABX802).

Designed for seamless integration, the ABX Series allows OEM and system integrators to rapidly integrate centimeter-level positioning into their application. Each receiver from the ABX Series is fitted with a built-in power supply extending the input voltage range to between 9 and 36 V DC while maintaining a low power consumption regardless of the power input voltage.

Built in a weatherproof, rugged and small-size unit, the ABX receivers can be operated in harsh environments while requiring a minimum of space for their installation. As lightweight highend units, all ABX receivers are also compatible with airborne applications for which weight considerations are critical.

Additionally, industry standard and independent i/O connectors simplify cabling for system integrators. Smart mounting bracket design allows seamless integration on board a machine or a vehicle for land, air or sea operations. Being a ‘plug and play’ system, it is ideally suited for mobile positioning and navigation onboardsolutions for which precision and fl exibility are equally important.

The latest state-of-the art XDL Micro UHF Transceiver (TRx) from Pacific Crest are also available with ABX800 and ABX802 models.

How does the HDS800 compete with other competitive positioning devices in the field of bathymetry and other marine applications?

HDS800 is the most advanced GNSS System ever produced by Ashtech. This is a unique high-end RTK+Heading+Pitch/Roll System which is highly rugged and fl exible. HDS800 provide Hot-Standby RTK feature which automatically selects the best available position when receiving two sets of corrections. It also provides dependable Heading + Pitch/Roll measurements with baseline auto-calibration. The configuration is a snap using the embedded web server!

The innovative design integrates all the communication components (GSM/GPRS and/or UHF radios) offering an all-in-one robust solution to the user. The weatherproof, highimpact resistant molded aluminum housing, the fl oating power input, the earth terminal and the optical isolation from internal circuitry of all available signals, ensures your investment is safe in all conditions. In addition to the unique set of built-in communication features, the HDS800 features internal and removable battery which acts as an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) for a power source outage and internal memory expandable through USB key.

The HDS800 boosts levels of performance ahead of the most sophisticated equipment available today. Thanks to this unique design, it can also be easily carried from site to site, vessel to vessel.

Please highlight the application segments of your products?

Ashtech OEM products are intended to help OEM, VAR and Integrators to quickly and easily integrate high-end GNSS positioning and/ or heading/attitude determination into their own application. We do not address specifics vertical markets, our customers do!
Our technology is fl exible enough to be used in many applications such as Survey (land and Marine), Offshore, Machine guidance and control, Precision Agriculture, UAV/drones, Avionics.

How do you ensure efficient customer support system?

Playing in the OEM world means strong and efficient technical support. OEM integration means long-term relationship, trust and support. Our customers rely on us to provide support during the integration process and during the whole life product cycle which is more important to OEMs. We have Field Application Engineers in US, Europe and Asia covering WW support to our customers and helping them in each stage of their development.

What are the various operations that the MB100 supports?

The MB100 OEM board is extremely important in the Ashtech OEM Portfolio since it is intended to replace the legendary DG14. However, the MB100 is offering much more! This is a L1 GPS, L1 GPS+GLONASS, L1/L2 GPS board (SBAS, of course) covering the whole range of positioning, from standalone (meter accuracy) to RTK (centimeter accuracy). The MB100 features two antenna input connectors, with automatic switching between the two antennas for specific applications such as handheld and tablet PC integration.
Finally, the MB100 can also use these 2 antennas connector simultaneously to be the ideal low-cost GNSS compass solution, providing dependable Heading + Pitch/Roll determination in addition to SBAS or DGPS or even L1 (Flying) RTK position.

How do you see the growth of positioning and navigation technologies in future in general and products and solutions offered by Ashtech in particular?

The trend is clearly towards the convergence/integration with additional sensors (IMU) to increase (always) availability. Communications is also extremely important. In terms of vertical markets, the UAV/ drone is showing high potential.

Being part of Trimble Integrated Technology division – which is also doing Trimble OEM – boosts us to focus on our strengths and differentiators which are Heading / Attitude Solutions for specific niche markets, GLONASS and GNSS (RTK) expertize and Avionics – Ashtech OEM has FAA-certifiable boards for Flight Management System integration for long time now.

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