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u-blox: Disruption leads to wide adoption

An interview with Markus Uster, head of product center positioning at u-blox about recent GNSS receiver innovations.



What was the most significant technical innovation in your GNSS receivers in the past five years?

The u-blox F9, launched in 2018, is our robust and versatile high-precision positioning technology platform. It was the first receiver to enable multi-band high-precision positioning solutions for mass-market industrial and automotive applications — and remains the benchmark for the industry today.

The platform combines multi-constellation (continuous reception of four satellite constellations) GNSS technology with dead reckoning and high-precision algorithms. It is also compatible with a variety of GNSS correction data services to achieve positioning accuracy down to the centimeter level.

The u-blox F9 platform is leading the next generation of high-precision navigation with its augmented reality, unmanned vehicles and various machine automation applications. It has since been integrated into a selection of modules catering to a wide range of applications.

What has it enabled users to do that they could not do before?

The u-blox F9 is a widely adopted multi-band GNSS platform for automotive and industrial applications. (Photo: u-blox)

The u-blox F9 is a widely adopted multi-band GNSS platform for automotive and industrial applications. (Photo: u-blox)

In a nutshell, the u-blox F9 brought high-precision positioning to the mass market. The demand for scalable high-precision technology is growing rapidly, as evident in the automotive world with next-generation advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and in robotics with applications such as UAVs and robotic lawnmowers. However, due to the complexity, size, power and cost restrictions of existing high-precision solutions, until now it has been difficult to meet the demands of these markets.

u-blox developed the u-blox F9 platform by building on the success of our NEO-M8P high-precision GNSS module series and drawing on our extensive experience in GNSS positioning technologies, including dead reckoning, multi-band, real-time kinematic (RTK) and GNSS correction services. The platform delivers the next level of scalable GNSS high-precision technology and shows how u-blox is consistently addressing challenges and driving the GNSS technology evolution.

What is a good example of this?

Integration of the u-blox F9 platform into various applications has proven quite successful in a diverse range of use cases. In the industrial realm, u-blox F9 technology enables mass adoption of commercial unmanned vehicle applications. One example is precision agriculture, where high-precision positioning cost-effectively enables vehicle guidance solutions to improve pass-to-pass accuracy resulting in improved crop yield and reduced consumption of pesticides, fertilizer and seeds. The u-blox F9 modules also paved the way for autonomous driving, including lane-level navigation for heads-up displays and vehicular infotainment systems, a prerequisite for highly automated and fully autonomous vehicles.

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