Professional Receivers via Software Radio
Background & Objectives
GNSS is entering into a period of intense change. GPS and GLONASS are also going through their own phases of modernisation with the GPS III programme and the GLONASS M and K programmes. Over the next five to ten years, Galileo and Beidou/Compass shall become fully operational systems, broadcasting new signals with modern modulations and innovative services. At a regional level, both India and Japan are moving ahead at pace with their IRNSS and QZSS programmes respectively. QZSS is now entering its integration and test phase.
In order to respond to the rapidly evolving landscape, GNSS receiver manufacturers are starting to integrate functionality within their products that enable them to be reconfigured to be compatible with the latest versions of the Interface Control Documents (ICDs). This is driven by the end-customer who is now specifying in their Invitations to Tender (ITT) functional requirements for reconfiguration to upgrade the receiver hardware for next generation signals and services. However, with such a diverse range of developments and future possibilities it is difficult to see how the traditional hardware receiver solutions can keep pace with the speed of change and the demands from the customer.
Today, the GNSS supply industry is unable to respond to this market requirement and is at risk of failing to support its downstream markets.
The project will specifically focus on technical risk reduction activities associated with the development of a prototype professional GNSS software receiver. The project will deliver a high-end prototype model based on the integration of innovative algorithms with emerging commercial off-the-shelf processor hardware. The PRECISIO receiver will consist of the following modules: antenna, RF front-end module, front-end (FE) signal validation tool, software receiver and a receiver validation tool.
The programme of work to develop the PRECISIO prototype will follow a classical engineering cycle and will consist of a series of seven major technical activities which cover the definition, research, design, development, validation and demonstration of the PRECISIO high-end prototype. These activities will be supported by three additional management, coordination and dissemination tasks which will cover all matters that concern project coordination and control. The project shall also include a dedicated activity covering the development of an implementation plan.
PRECISIO addresses this challenge through the provision of a GNSS professional receiver product based on a software-defined radio (SDR) approach.
The objective of the project is to define, design, develop, validate and demonstrate a multi-constellation, multi-frequency, high-end prototype GNSS software receiver targeting the professional application markets. The PRECISIO high-end prototype will be based on software receiver technology and shall be capable of receiving and processing signals from Galileo, GPS, GLONASS, Beidou/Compass and SBAS in real time. These claims shall be confirmed through a validation and demonstration campaign.
The rationale for this proposal is two-fold. Firstly, the processing technology is now available to enable the development of a real-time software receiver. Secondly, the GNSS arena is more dynamic than ever: there are new signals, new modulations, new constellations, new services and new applications. The use of a software-based approach to GNSS receiver development gives GNSS infrastructure operators the option to invest in a flexible receiver solution, which can be reconfigured and upgraded via software as new functionality becomes available. A secondary objective of PRECISIO is to boost the adoption of software receiver technology by demanding professional applications by providing low-cost, flexible, high-performance equipment.
Work performed & results
The main outputs proposed by PRECISIO include:
- the realisation of a high-end prototype GNSS professional receiver based on a software receiver approach. Such a device will ‘future proof’ markets against the uncertainty in GNSS signals and provide a seamless and cost effective upgrade path for Galileo;
- the realisation of an implementation plan focusing on generating commercial opportunities for the eventual PRECISIO product.
The main innovations of the project will be:
- development of the PRECISIO prototype professional antenna based on the use of digital multipath suppression technology, in contrast to traditional approaches of advanced ground plane technology;
- development of the PRECISIO RF front-end based on a direct sampling of RF approach covering all RNSS frequency bands;
- development of the PRECISIO Software Receiver capable of processing GPS, Galileo, GLONASS and Compass signals;
- validation and demonstration of the use of software receiver technology in real-world GNSS infrastructures to determine in-field performances.
These technological innovations will significantly advance the state of the art in terms of technological development and scientific understanding of the capability of software receivers, and will further generate opportunities for developing ‘innovative’ business models in exploiting GNSS receiver technology within the professional sector.