Europe: A European Union-funded initiative has developed a low-cost positioning and navigation system for unmanned aerial systems (UAS).
Using multiple antennas, the device is based on off-the-shelf components and advanced data-fusion algorithms. It fuses GNSS and inertial data to enable accurate and reliable navigation.
The EU-funded Horizon 2020 GLAD-2 project developed the system. The work involved in-depth analysis of algorithms, hardware and software redesign, exhaustive refinement and repeated in-field testing.
Researchers used low-cost GNSS receivers, together with advanced data fusion with an inertial measurement unit, and barometer data to enhance the attitude and position of UAS in harsh GNSS environments. The system also avoided the use of magnetometers, making it immune to magnetic fields, and removing the need for system calibration when the magnetic environment is modified.
Engineers selected different GNSS antennas and measured their performance according to technical and economic criteria. A multi-antenna approach enabled UAS to take accurate headings without suffering the usual problems inherent to magnetometers.
“The inertial sensors provide an excellent dynamic response at very high data rates, while GNSS serves as an absolute reference to prevent drift. In addition, differential GNSS carrier phase measurements can be used to obtain great accuracy in orientation by using the multi-antenna configuration,” said project coordinator Esther López of Spanish technology company ACORDE.
GLAD-2 achieved the commercialization of the low-cost navigation system, culminating in the European Conformity (CE) certification mark following the corresponding certification process. The CE mark indicates conformity with health, safety and environmental protection standards for products sold within the European Economic Area.
The result is a highly competitive product aimed at the low-cost sector of the navigation systems market. “Due to its flexibility, the system fulfils the needs of a wide range of users, not only in UAS, but also in terrestrial and maritime environments applications,” López said.