A pioneering navigation device which can tune into different satellite networks around the world is being developed by researchers at De Montfort University (DMU) Leicester, UK, in partnership with Nottingham Scientific Ltd. (NSL). NSL specializes in the commercial exploitation of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) technology. Satellite navigation receivers are traditionally reliant upon one network. This will be the first time a receiver has been created which can gather information from a number of sources, including the US Global Positioning System (GPS), the European Galileo system and similar satellite systems currently being developed across the world.
DMU has been awarded £113,000 by the Department of Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and the East Midlands Development Agency to take part in the Knowledge Transfer Partnership with NSL. As products built using the technology will be more adaptable than traditional GNSS receivers, they will be at less risk of becoming obsolete due to advances in the satellite systems sector.
The project will use Software Defined Radio (SDR) to decode the incoming data from the satellite. Traditional GNSS receivers operate in the same way as analog radio receivers, tuning into a specific radio channel. SDR uses software-based algorithms to enable the device to retune itself to any of the world's different GNSS systems. John Gow, a lead researcher on the project, said, "This partnership represents a remarkable opportunity to drive the outcomes of the latest research in SDR technology rapidly into mainstream commercial developments. The flexibility of SDR has immense potential as the technology itself enables a greater degree of 'future-proofing' of GNSS systems. This will also significantly reduce electronic waste caused by the rapid obsolescence of the highly-specific architectures required by non-SDR systems."