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RX Networks announces NavIC support

Rx Networks logo

Rx Networks Inc., a mobile location technology and services company, has announced support for the NavIC Constellation.

The company made the announcement at ION GNSS+, held earlier this month in Miami, Florida.

Rx Networks’ comprehensive GNSS constellation data service provides technology partners — and their associated customers — real-time and predicted assistance for all satellite navigation systems and L1 satellite-based augmentation systems (SBAS) for any region around the globe.

The addition of NavIC builds on Rx Networks’ brand promise (to deliver “location enlightened” products and services) by providing real-time and predicted GNSS assistance data in any individual or combination of formats. This enables developers to optimize device performance for specific use cases and conform to national requirements.

Data is delivered via ephemeris in RINEX and Predictions in SP3, P-GNSS and RT-GNSS, via the platform, will be added in the first quarter of 2020.

“Our Location. Enlightened. brand promise speaks to our goal of providing the most comprehensive, relevant, accurate and reliable location data available,” said John Carley, vice president of sales and marketing at Rx Networks. “The addition of NavIC in our carrier-grade infrastructure demonstrates our commitment to our brand and to stay on the leading edge of truly global satellite-based positioning and services. The ability to offer NavIC support is extremely significant as it ensures we can support our customers with exactly what is required in any given region of the Globe.”

NavIC, formerly known as IRNSS (Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System), combines GEO and IGSO satellites to provide a regional position, navigation and time (PNT) system including ionospheric corrections.

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PCTEL unveils GNSS L1/L2/L5 combo antenna at RSSI

Photo: PCTEL

Photo: PCTEL

PCTEL Inc. has announced an innovative new antenna that combines precision multi-constellation GNSS with high-performance LTE, sub-6 GHz 5G, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity.

The Coach II antenna with GNSS L1/L2/L5 is designed to provide greater precision and reliability for advanced rail communications systems, enabling everything from next-generation positive train control (PTC) to passenger Wi-Fi.

“Precise timing and tracking information is critical not just for rail, but for a variety of fleet, public safety, and industrial IoT [internet of things] applications,” said Rishi Bharadwaj, PCTEL’s chief operating officer. “PCTEL’s antenna technology enables our customers to deploy new technologies with confidence,” added Bharadwaj.

The new antenna features:

  • Global multi-GNSS compatibility: 1150-290 MHz (GPS L2/L5; Galileo E5A/E5B/E6; GLONASS L2/L3; BEIDOU B2/B3); 1500-615 MHz (GPS L1; Galileo E1; GLONASS L1; BEIDOU B1/B1-2)
  • Dual-port 4G LTE / sub-6 GHz 5G NR
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi / Bluetooth connectivity
  • AAR compliant for railway applications
  • IP67-rated design

PCTEL is displaying its Coach II antenna with GNSS L1/L2/L5 on Sept. 22-24 at RSSI C&S Exhibition in Minneapolis, Minn. It is available to order now for shipment in early November using part #GL125-DLTEMIMO.

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ESA provides new maps of Earth from reflected satnav

News from the European Space Agency

Your phone or satnav receiver routinely picks up signals from navigation satellites in order to tell you precisely where you are. But have you ever thought what happens to those satnav signals afterwards? A foresighted ESA inventor had the idea of using them as a tool for observing the Earth.

More than 120 satellite navigation satellites are in orbit, making up multiple constellations including Europe’s Galileo system, sending down a continuous rain of satnav signals for the benefit of users worldwide. Just like visible light, these microwave signals go on to reflect off Earth’s land and sea surfaces.

The traditional attitude to these reflected signals is to see them as something of a nuisance — known as multipath, they can confuse satnav receivers and reduce their overall accuracy.

ESA microwave engineer Manuel Martín-Neira, inventor of the PARIS reflectometry concept. (Photo: ESA)

ESA microwave engineer Manuel Martín-Neira, inventor of the PARIS reflectometry concept. (Photo: ESA)

But back in 1993 — at the same time as the US GPS satnav system reached its full constellation of 24 satellites — a young ESA microwave engineer called Manuel Martín-Neira came up with the idea of treating these satnav reflections as a scientific resource instead.

“My head of division asked me to come up with a budget-friendly way of increasing the overall sampling rate to build up a fuller picture of mesoscale phenomena, and that led me to start looking into making use of additional signals of opportunity, chiefly satnav signals.

“The initial reaction was mixed, because the forecast accuracy was not as precise as the ERS-1 altimeter could deliver — but on the plus side there would be a lot of these signals to make use of, and the performance has improved a lot since those early days.”

PARIS, detecting reflected satnav. (Photo: ESA)

PARIS, detecting reflected satnav. (Photo: ESA)

Inspiration from reflection

The basic idea of what Manuel christened the Passive Reflectometry and Interferometry System, or PARIS, comes down to a two-sided antenna. As the topmost side picks up a satnav signal from the satellites in orbit, the other side picks up the version of the signal bounced back from Earth.

By comparing this initial, overhead signal with its reflected equivalent using a process called interferometry — measuring tiny differences in signal phases – the extra travel time of this reflected beam can be determined, down to an accuracy of less than five centimetres, determining sea height and sea ice thickness.

Additional amplitude waveform processing can deliver further data on wind and wave measurements over the ocean, and soil moisture and biomass over land.

Satellite reflectometry has since grown into a thriving field. This summer, Manuel attended the latest international workshop on the method he first devised 26 years ago.

Reflectometry reaches space

“It’s been fantastic to have experimental evidence, and that’s really been made possible by the growing availability of smaller satellites,” explains Manuel.

“Because satellite reflectometry is a passive form of remote sensing, it makes for an attractive potential payload because it doesn’t need a lot of power to operate. Then one of the results is meteorology data that private companies intend to make money with by delivering to public agencies.”

Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd's UK-DMC satellite was the first orbital mission with a reflectometry payload. (Photo: ESA)

Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd.’s UK-DMC satellite was the first orbital mission with a reflectometry payload. (Photo: ESA)

In 2003, the UK-DMC satellite was the first mission to fly a reflectometry payload, followed in recent years by, for example, the UK’s TechDemoSat-1, NASA’s CyGNSS constellation to monitor hurricanes and the Spire global constellation of commercial nanosatellites.

“These satellites have really given the reflectometry community a wealth of signals, demonstrating what reflections look like over different surfaces including sea ice, forests, and even inland water bodies such as the Amazon River and its tributaries.

“In parts of the ocean near continental masses and within atolls we are seeing reflected signals from very calm waters which resembled a mirror, giving us very high precision down to 1 cm level. Such measurements could potentially complement current altimetry missions, by for instance measuring sea level rise.”

Example of a CYGNSS Microsatellite Observatory. (Image: Southwest Research Institute)

Example of a CYGNSS Microsatellite Observatory. (Image: Southwest Research Institute)

ESA activities taking flight

ESA meanwhile is active on reflectometry in various ways, having developed and tested a steerable airborne antenna called the Software PARIS Interferometric Receiver or SPIR, capable of steering separate antenna beams to build up a rapid surface picture, and differentiating between different signal sources, such as GPS from Galileo.

Manuel adds: “ESA’s GNSS Science Support Centre, based at the Agency’s European Space Astronomy Centre near Madrid, has been taking a keen interest in these activities.”

Missions are also in development, including a dedicated CubeSat with RUAG-Austria and the University of Graz called PRETTY (for Passive REflecTomeTry and dosimetry, which would also carry a radiation detector), and a small satellite pair called FSSCat from Spain’s Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, backed through the Copernicus Masters competition, seen as a prototype for a future reflectometry constellation.

ESA’s Directorate of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications is also working with the Spire company to fly enhanced reflectometry instruments, starting at the end of this year.

One of Spire's Satellite Manufacturing Technicians (Tomasz Chanusiak) tests the Radio Frequency capabilities of a LEMUR2 nanosatellite in Spire's cleanroom in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo: ESA)

One of Spire’s Satellite Manufacturing Technicians (Tomasz Chanusiak) tests the Radio Frequency capabilities of a LEMUR2 nanosatellite in Spire’s cleanroom in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo: ESA)

When it comes to the thriving state of today’s reflectometry community, Manuel recalls the patenting of his idea as a turning point: ‘Having had this idea, which was not particularly well received, the proposal by ESA’s Patents Group to patent it made all the difference. It gave me a feeling of confidence, that somebody else at least saw the potential of this idea — and the rest is history.”

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Averna celebrates 20 years of  test and measurement

Averna celebrated its 20th anniversary Sept. 20 as a leading global test and quality solutions provider. Founded in 1999 by a team of three in Montreal, Quebec, Averna has grown to 400+ employees with 10 offices and more than 300 customers around the world.

Image: Averna

Image: Averna

“I am proud to see what Averna has become,” said Adil Lahlou, one of the co-founders of Averna. “We started Averna by understanding our clients’ manufacturing challenges and now reflecting on the continuing success we’ve had, it’s a reminder that we are still on the right path, particularly with the growth of Industry 4.0.”

Averna’s growth can also be attributed to business alliances. Company founders Kurt Hensen (T&M Solutions NV) and Darren Lingafeldt (Nexjen Systems) both believed that combining more than 100 years of test and quality experience would only benefit their customers and the industry.

“With each company bringing their own expertise to the forefront, different technologies are being exposed to a wider range of clients internationally,” the two said in a press release.

With proficiency in vision, RF signals, optics, precision assembly, robotics and automation, Averna has developed hundreds of unique solutions to service major industries such as medical technology, automotive and transport, and consumer goods and electronics.

Through standalone projects and complete program outsourcing, Averna’s global team has demonstrated its capability to support their customers at every step of the product life-cycle, the company said.

“What makes Averna outstanding is the willingness to consistently evolve and stay in front of our customers’ business needs,” said Francois Rainville, president and CEO of Averna. “It’s our employees’ enthusiasm to understand and tackle customers’ evolving requirements that has kept us ahead for the last 20 years and will continue to through the next 20.”

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Orolia introduces new GNSS testing and simulation portfolio

Orolia introduced its new GPS/GNSS testing and simulation portfolio, including the new GSG-8 advanced simulator, at the world’s largest showcase of GNSS technology, products and services, ION GNSS+ in Miami.

The new portfolio offers a comprehensive array of GNSS validation technology, as well as signal and PNT data protection through jamming/spoofing detection, suppression and countermeasure solutions.

The capabilities are built on Orolia’s legacy of resilient PNT solutions, together with two key acquisitions completed this year: Skydel Solutions and Talen-X. These companies were selected based on their demonstrated GNSS testing and simulation experience.

GSG-8, the latest advanced simulator from Orolia, was also introduced to the global GNSS community this week at ION GNSS+. This software-defined simulation solution offers ultra-high performance and unmatched flexibility in an easy-to-use format. GSG-8 was developed to deliver the highest standard of GNSS signal testing and sensor simulation performance, in an upgradable and scalable platform.

“With its scientific precision and advanced simulation capabilities, GSG-8 is revolutionizing the GNSS simulation industry with Orolia’s robust 1000Hz Skydel software engine and COTS software-defined radios,” said Stephane Hamel, director of testing and simulation at Orolia. “GSG-8 is designed for customers that require complex capabilities to validate product and program performance in harsh, high risk environments where failure is not an option- such as government agencies, space programs and specialized commercial programs.”

It can be programmed to simulate operations with multiple GNSS constellations and to incorporate the use of encrypted or proprietary signals. GSG-8 can also be configured for Wavefront and Anechoic chamber simulation protocols to test anti-jam antennas and complete systems, to serve the most challenging program requirements.

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Hexagon showcases smart cities portfolio at Intergeo 2019

Logo: HexagonHexagon AB is presenting its Smart Buildings & Infrastructure and Smart Cities & Nations portfolios at Intergeo 2019, taking place Sept. 17-19 in Stuttgart, Germany.

At the show, the company exhibited a number of its solutions designed to help manage the life of a building — from initial land surveying, through design, build, maintenance, renovation and demolition — and optimize the completion of infrastructure projects. These solutions include the Leica DSX utility detection solution, the BricsCAD building design software and HxGN SmartBuild.

Reality capture solutions showcased at Intergeo 2019 include Hexagon’s Leica BLK2GO mobile reality capture solution, the HxGN Content Program, and the Hexagon Smart M.Apps and Luciad portfolios.

“The ultimate form of data leverage is when tasks and processes become autonomous, which is the goal of our smart solutions portfolios,” said Ola Rollén, president and CEO at Hexagon. “We help customers leverage the data within their workflows to achieve the greatest efficiency, productivity and quality outcomes possible. When we collectively achieve these outcomes at scale, not only can we sustain growth for our businesses, but also this finite planet we all share…fewer resources, less waste, less pollution.”

Hexagon can be found at in hall 1 at booths B1.022 B1.027 and hall 4 at booth F4.068.

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Orolia Defense & Security completes acquisition of Talen-X

Talen-X has joined Orolia Defense & Security to expand its capabilities and resources, enabling the development of more advanced position, navigation and timing (PNT) solutions and to offer more robust customer support.

Photo: Orolia

Orolia Defense & Security has completed the acquisition of Talen-X, a U.S. company specializing in advanced GNSS solutions and interference, detection and mitigation (IDM) technologies.

“Orolia Defense & Security is excited to bring on Talen-X as they offer a complementary portfolio of solutions and bring many years of advanced PNT experience to the team. We look forward to continuing their growth by providing additional resources and capabilities, while ensuring the growth and success of their current customers,” said Hironori Sasaki, president of Orolia Defense & Security.

In early 2019, Orolia Defense & Security spun off as a separate entity from its parent company Orolia, with the mission of providing resilient PNT solutions and custom engineering services to U.S. government agencies, U.S. defense organizations, and their contractors.

Orolia Defense & Security operates as a proxy-regulated company, free of foreign ownership, control or influence (FOCI). As such, Orolia Defense & Security is approved to work on the full spectrum of U.S. government classified and unclassified projects and is positioned to support strategic partnerships in the development of key PNT technologies for the defense market.

“Our culture of innovation, together with our demonstrated testing capabilities, will complement Orolia’s technology expertise and significantly enhance the reliability, performance and safety of military operations,” said Tim Erbes, Orolia Defense & Security’s Director of Engineering. The acquisition also enables Talen-X’s existing resources, operations and capabilities to be scaled and accelerated to better support the warfighter.

At the Modern Day Marine and Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) exhibitions, Orolia Defense & Security is showcasing its latest technologies such as the BroadSim Wavefront GNSS simulator, ThreatBlocker jamming/spoofing detection and protection device and BroadShield threat detection software.

Authorized for use with U.S. military signals such as GPS L1/L2, P, Y, and M-Code, Orolia’s simulation and IDM solutions serve unique and challenging program requirements.

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Hemisphere GNSS launches GNSS receiver, smart antenna at Intergeo 2019

Hemisphere GNSS has introduced its multi-frequency, multi-GNSS S621 GNSS survey smart antenna and R620 GNSS receiver at Intergeo 2019 in Stuttgart, Germany, and ION GNSS+ 2019 in Miami.

S621 GNSS survey smart antenna

The S621 GNSS survey smart antenna is a complete redesign of Hemisphere's previous generation version, the S321+. (Photo: Allison Barwacz)

The S621 GNSS survey smart antenna is a complete redesign of Hemisphere’s previous generation version, the S321+. (Photo: Allison Barwacz)

The S621, powered by the company’s Phantom 40 GNSS OEM board, is a complete redesign of Hemisphere’s previous generation version, the S321+.

According to the company, the S621 processes and supports more than 800 channels with flexible and scalable simultaneous tracking of every modern and planned GNSS constellation and signal including GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou (including Phase 3), Galileo, QZSS, IRNSS, SBAS and Atlas L-band.

The S621 combines Hemisphere’s Athena GNSS engine and Atlas L-band correction technologies with a new WebUI. It meets IP67 requirements and is immune to magnetic interference. It is designed for use in land or marine survey, GIS, mapping, construction or other applications requiring high-performance precision and positioning, the company added.

“The S621 represents the advanced technology, durability, and ease-of-use that our customers have come to expect,” said Miles Ware, director of marketing at Hemisphere. “By redesigning this system from the ground up with increased functionality and management capabilities, we are offering unbeatable value.”

R620 GNSS receiver

The R620 GNSS receiver is a complete refresh of Hemisphere's previous version, the R330. (Photo: Allison Barwacz)

The R620 GNSS receiver is a complete refresh of Hemisphere’s previous version, the R330. (Photo: Allison Barwacz)

The R620 GNSS receiver, powered by the Vega series, is a complete refresh of Hemisphere’s previous version, the R330, and includes an all-new low-profile ruggedized enclosure.

According to Hemisphere GNSS, the R620 GNSS receiver processes and supports more than 1,100 channels and offers flexible and scalable simultaneous tracking of every modern and planned GNSS constellation and signal including GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou (including Phase 3), Galileo, QZSS, IRNSS, SBAS and Atlas L-band.

The R620 combines Hemisphere’s Athena GNSS engine and Atlas L-band correction technologies with status LEDs and a WebUI. It also comes equipped with UHF (400 MHz and 900 MHz) radio, cellular modem, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

“With its all-new design and feature set, the R620 GNSS receiver is Hemisphere’s offering to what the market desires — smaller machine, lower cost and less power,” Ware said. “The receiver boasts a feature- and performance-packed combination of greater performance, improved robustness and excellent value.”

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Defense in front of UAV development

The MQ-9B SkyGuardian will participate in NASA-sponsored flight tests in 2020. (Photo: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems)

The MQ-9B SkyGuardian will participate in NASA-sponsored flight tests in 2020. (Photo: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems)

The defense segment is going from strength to strength — despite a phase not too long ago when defense spending appeared to be dropping. Widespread drone use received a boost with specialized equipment developed for defense forces applications.

The Predator Advances

The General Atomics Predator has gone from a long-distance loiter-and-observe UAV to frontline precision-strike capability, and has been adopted by many military forces around the world.

From first flights in 1994 to initial production in 1997, the Predator has now evolved into many configurations equipped with piston engine, turboprop and jet; line-of-sight radio and satellite command and control; synthetic aperture radar and multi-spectral targeting system; video, TV and thermographic cameras; and laser designators and other payloads.

From pure reconnaissance to various strike and attack configurations, the names have also changed. Predator, Reaper, Gray Eagle, Avenger, Protector, Guardian and SkyGuardian have a host of RQ/MQ designations. For instance, In the RQ-4 Global Hawk name, the “R” means reconnaissance, the “Q” means unmanned aircraft, and the “4” is the series.

The SkyGuardian version of the Predator is a certifiable variant anticipated to ultimately become fully authorized for controlled airspace. It will take part in the NASA Systems Integration and Operationalization (SOI) demonstration program in mid-2020, which will highlight commercial UAS missions using larger drones in the national airspace.

The Predator family has now been evolving for more than 25 years. Unfortunately, the popularity of the Predator family of military unmanned aircraft has led to recent headline news about Predators shot down in the Gulf of Hormuz, or crashed in Afghanistan — such is the price of success!

Global Hawk Gathers Intel

The Northrop Grumman Global Hawk has become a U.S. mainline, high-altitude intelligence gathering asset, deployed by both the U.S. Air Force (RQ-4 Global Hawk) and Navy (MQ-4C Triton). Other friendly nations have also shown various levels of interest in acquiring variants, including Germany, Australia, Canada, Japan and South Korea.

Northrop Grumman has reintroduced the Firebird as a contender in the airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) field. The Firebird can be configured as unmanned (ground control), autonomous or piloted, and has payload flexibility through open architecture, plug-and-play integration.

The North Dakota UAS test range facility at Grand Sky has initiated procurement of two Firebird UAVs, which they intend to supply to their customers for mapping, inspection and monitoring applications using their extensive, long-range BVLOS capabilities.

Skyborg Equipped with AI

And then there’s this U.S. Air Force Skyborg program, which aims to drag the most possible out of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation in an airborne fighter support roll. Kratos has flown the drone hardware a couple of times – the XQ-58A Valkyrie is a “low-cost” unmanned aircraft designed to fly alongside front-line attack aircraft like the F-35 and F-18.

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is researching the technology, new sensors, payloads and networking capability these drones will be outfitted with to fly alongside manned fighter jets.

A whole slew of other extremely capable drones are already being operated by the U.S. Army and Navy in a variety of support roles.

The DroneGun Tactical in use in an operational scenario. (Photo: Photo: DroneShield)

The DroneGun Tactical in use in an operational scenario. (Photo: Photo: DroneShield)

Anti-Drone Detection and Prevention

On the flip side, an entirely new related industry segment has come about in the last several years, usually adapting existing radar, sound, infrared or other ground detection systems.

This segment is aimed at circumventing unwelcome drone encroachment over sensitive facilities. Airports, governments, prisons, and energy and water utilities are among the facilities who want to prevent unwanted drones penetrating their airspace.

Solutions may be portable and short range, or ground-based and longer range, with the capability to take down an invading drone or detect where it came from and provide significant warning time.

One solution uses an attack drone that ensnares an intruder-drone in a net and brings it the defender’s location to support second-level investigations. Whatever the solution, drone defense is a growing field.

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Tallysman debuts VeroStar precision antenna, helical antennas at Intergeo 2019

The VSP600L VeroStar supports the full GNSS spectrum, as well as L-band correction services. (Photo: Allison Barwacz)

The VSP600L VeroStar supports the full GNSS spectrum, as well as L-band correction services. (Photo: Allison Barwacz)

Tallysman has released its VSP600L VeroStar precision antenna at Intergeo 2019, which took place Sept. 17-19 in Stuttgart, Germany.

The VeroStar supports the full GNSS spectrum, as well as L-band correction services. The antenna provides low elevation satellite tracking with a high efficiency radiating element, the company said.

It features a light, compact and robust design, in addition to low axial ratios from zenith to horizon. According to Tallysman, the VSP600L VeroStar also provides high receive gain over the full GNSS spectrum from low GNSS band (1164MHz to 1300MHz) L-band correction services (1539MHz to 1559MHz) to high GNSS band (1559MHz to 1610 MHz).

The antenna also boasts a tight phase center variation, low current, invariant performance Fromm m+3 to 16VDC and high gain-to-noise at low elevation angles.

“The most unique feature of the VeroStar antenna is the high gain at low elevations,” Allen Crawford, director of key accounts at Tallysman, told GPS World at the show. “It can track low elevation satellites with a really high signal level, which is really important for those using correction services coming off of geostationary satellites. So as you go further away from the equator, you’re dealing with some very small link margins and you need those extra up to 4dB higher signal strength that this antenna provides.”

According to the company, it will soon be releasing embedded models of the VSP600L VeroStar.

At the show, the company also released an updated line of its helical antennas, including the single frequency HC771, dual frequency (plus L- band corrections) HC882 and the triple band (plus L- band corrections) HC975. The original line of helical antennas, which includes the HC600, HC871 and HC872, were released earlier this year.