UAV Manufacturer Designs, Builds Own GPS for Transponder Product - Inside GNSS - Global Navigation Satellite Systems Engineering, Policy, and Design

UAV Manufacturer Designs, Builds Own GPS for Transponder Product

uAvionix has added a new low size, weight and power (SWaP) transponder to its line-up of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) communications, navigation, and surveillance (CNS) solutions. To make the device, the company took the unusual step, for a specialty OEM manufacturer, of designing and building its own GPS receiver.

The ping200XR integrates the full capability of the ping200X TSO Certified Mode S ADS-B OUT transponder with the high integrity truFYX TSO-certified GPS position source into a single, easy-to-install enclosure. The single enclosure simplifies installation and allows the customer to choose between the existing installed GPS antenna or one provided with the ping200XR.

The integrated GPS ensures maximum safety by providing Source Integrity Level (SIL) 3 RTCA DO-229D and TSO-C145e Class Beta 1 performance, a requirement for Mode S and ADS-B airspace access, and for reception and processing by certified avionics and Traffic Collision Avoidance Systems (TCAS) in other aircraft, as well as Air Traffic Control (ATC). SIL 3 performance is not available from non-aviation certified GPS, which are often used as an autopilot navigation source.

In order to meet very demanding size, weight and power requirements for UAV equipment, uAvionix took the unusual step of designing and building its own GPS receiver. As uAvionix president Christian Ramsey told Inside GNSS, “It spurred us to undertake a parallel development in that we needed a [FAA-] certifiable GPS to to put in that device. And if we were to go buy a GPS, you know very well, they’re big, and they’re expensive, and it would cost as much as our product costs, if we were to go buy something off the shelf. So we spun off an entire effort just to build and certify a GPS in order to incorporate it into those products. We succeeded wildly.”

The ping200XR is integrable with many popular onboard UAS autopilots for dynamic control from ground control stations (GCS), including George, uAvionix’s enterprise autopilot solution. ping200XR can also be pre-configured before flight and carried as a payload. Replicating the functionality of a cockpit transponder controller, the uAvionix mini-controller allows the user to dial-in a squawk code before takeoff for even quicker integration and rapid deployment.

Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) is a real-time precision, shared situational awareness system benefitting pilots and air traffic controllers alike, and significantly enhancing air safety. ADS-B Out has been mandated since January 2020 by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for all manned aircraft operating in most controlled airspace throughout the United States.

ADS-B is a  technology that uses GPS to track aircraft in real time and improve situational awareness. There are both Out and In components for different purposes.  ADS-B Out provides an exact latitude-longitude position for an aircraft about every second to Air Traffic Control (ATC). ADS-B In systems give equipped aircraft the ability to receive critical surveillance information on surrounding traffic as well as other information.

ADS-B Out creates a hockey puck-shaped zone around the aircraft, or UAV in this case, that enables other ADS-B Out/In equipped aircraft in the vicinity to pick up its location.