“GNSS foresight” Making Unmanned Aerial (UAS) & Autonomous Vehicles Navigation safe & reliable at BVLOS

Reliable and safe navigation of unmanned and autonomous vehicles has been a major concern especially in urban areas where GNSS signals being obscured or blocked. To address one of these issues faced by developers and operators of unmanned aerial (UAS) and autonomous vehicles, Spirent Communications, the world leader in GNSS test and assurance solutions launched an innovative cloud-based solution “GNSS foresight”, that lets operators know in advance where and when GPS or GNSS positioning is reliable and drones can operate safely beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS).

In The GPS Time Interview with Jeremy Bennington, VP of PNT Assurance at Spirent Communications, Jeremy explains how GNSS Foresight can revolutionize unmanned vehicles and forecast accurately.

  • What are the major roadblocks in the path of unmanned aerial (UAS) and autonomous vehicles?

The roadblocks are becoming fewer as industry and regulators continue to create solutions.  Most of them are safety related.  Reliable navigation being one part of the overall safety topic.  In order to have reliable autonomy of cars/trucks and Beyond Visual Line of Sight UAS flights, navigation must be reliable. GPS/GNSS is the most common source of global position for navigation, but has reliability problems that GNSS Foresight can address.

  • What are the benefits of operating Unmanned Vehicles to BVLOS?

The benefits of BVLOS are numerous.  Today drones must remain in the line of sight of a pilot who’s watching it. Medical delivery, package delivery, search and rescue, and just about every type of drone operation can’t scale without being able to fly BVLOS.  It’s quite simple, visual operations limit the distance that a drone can fly and that limits the ability to scale and have multiple drones flying semi or fully autonomous.

  • Kindly brief our readers about Spirent’s GNSS Foresight and how it will revolutionize unmanned vehicles?

GNSS Foresight predicts where and when GPS/GNSS will perform and meet the navigation requirements needed to fly a drone or drive a vehicle.  For example, if you wanted to fly a drone to deliver a package in a suburban area, GNSS Foresight can determine the best time and flight path when GPS can be used to successfully fly the drone. Without GNSS Foresight GPS/GNSS may be so unpredictable that flights may not be allowed in that area without this type of solution.

  • What are the key features of this cloud-based solution?

GNSS Foresight has two different delivery methods. One is a Risk Analysis where we provide a map of areas that are always safe to fly.  Another is the Forecast Service where we provide a GNSS forecast for every square meter and second in the service area for the current time and into the future a few days. A flight planning system or UTM can access the GNSS Foresight Forecast Service in the cloud and within seconds know where it is safe to fly.  Having GNSS Foresight in the cloud provides unprecedented scale and speed as we can ultimately predict GNSS performance across the world.

  • How GNSS foresight accurately forecast?

GNSS Foresight is the first solution to use GNSS orbital models and highly accurate 3D geospatial maps to predict GNSS satellite line-of-sight information in massive scale. We calculate every meter and second as each satellite comes in and out of view as it is blocked and unblocked by buildings and terrain.

  • Any message to developers and operators working with unmanned aerial (UAS) and autonomous vehicles?

GPS and GNSS can be extremely reliable even in urban areas if you know when and where the signals will meet your navigational requirements. GNSS Foresight ensures that you can easily integrate navigation predictions into flight planning systems to quickly plan for safe, reliable, and scales drone operations.

  • What is more challenging forecasting reliable GNSS for autonomous vehicle or for unmanned aviation?

Forecasting for the two industries is the same, although more computation is needed for aviation since they also need altitudes (cars are always on the ground). Navigation in aviation is more challenging in general.  There is a higher reliance on GNSS and fewer ways to augment.