B: Applications Archives - Page 99 of 103 - Inside GNSS

B: Applications

November 25, 2007

Congress Pares GPS III Funds, Slams Air Force Space Acquisition Efforts (updated 11/28/07)

The GPS III modernization program came up short in the 2008 fiscal year (FY08) Department of Defense (DoD) appropriations bill signed into law by President Bush on November 13.

In passing H.R. 3222, Congress reduced the president’s request by $100 million to $487.23 million for the budgetary year ending next October 1.

Military GPS M-code user equipment (MUE) did better, however: gaining $63.2 million on Capitol Hill, over and above the $93.27 proposed in the administration’s budget, for a total of $156.47 million.

Read More >

By Glen Gibbons
October 31, 2007


As of late October 2007, China’s Compass (Beidou 2) Navigation Satellite System (CNSS) has manifested little change since the launch of its first medium Earth orbit (MEO) satellite in April 2007. Four geostationary satellites from the prototype Beidou system had previously been launched, the first on October 31, 2000.

Read More >

By Glen Gibbons

Changdon Kee

Changdon Kee is a professor and associate head of the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Seoul National University. He developed the basic concept and presented the first experimental test results of wide area differential GPS in the early 1990s.

Kee has published widely on GNSS, pseudolites, space mechanics and UAV Automatic navigation and control and holds more than 15 domestic and international patents for his work on GNSS.

Read More >

By Inside GNSS
October 27, 2007

U.S. Department of Commerce Proposes Update to Office Overseeing GPS and Related PNT Activities

The Department of Commerce has proposed legislation to boost the U.S. government’s space commerce activities. Specifically, the bill would reauthorize the Office of Space Commercialization (OSC), restore the office’s original name — Office of Space Commerce — and focus the office’s responsibilities to enable a robust and responsive U.S. commercial space industry.

Read More >

By Glen Gibbons
October 21, 2007

Pat Fenton: GNSS from the Outside In

Patrick Fenton’s career as the guiding mind behind the design of six generations of breakthrough GNSS receiver technologies began the moment he realized his hobby — computer programming — might end the need for surveyors to spend long evenings reducing and verifying the data they collected each day.

Patrick Fenton’s career as the guiding mind behind the design of six generations of breakthrough GNSS receiver technologies began the moment he realized his hobby — computer programming — might end the need for surveyors to spend long evenings reducing and verifying the data they collected each day.

It was the summer of 1981. Fresh out of the University of Calgary’s survey engineering program, Fenton was enjoying a taste of what he’d envisioned would be a “professional outdoor career” as a rookie land surveyor for ShellTech Surveys, a now defunct division of Shell Canada.

“We would spend all day turning the angles and measuring for a road project,” he said. “Then, evenings we would spend hours reducing the data and making sure it was all correct. I was able to hop on the computer and get that done for the crew very quickly.”

Fenton’s inspired effort ended his work outdoors. “They told me to stay in the office and develop the software,” he recalled. “From then on I worked on processing the data and developing equipment that would make their jobs easier.”

When the oil crunch hit, ShellTech was sold in January 1982 and became Nortech Surveys Ltd. Fenton worked on a number of high-tech survey systems for the oil exploration industry, including INS, microwave ranging, and GPS. He became software manager of a Nortech subsidiary, Norstar Instruments.

“At the time, there wasn’t a suitable GNSS instrument on the market that met the needs of Nortech; so, the management decided that we had the talent to jump into the survey instrument business,” Fenton said. “We did create a very nice product; however, we lacked knowledge in high quality manufacturing. Each one we built was a little bit different.”

A Better Mouse Trap

NovAtel, then a giant in Canada’s cell phone industry, acquired the NorStar division in 1989.

“The combination of skills at NovAtel was exactly what was needed for our GPS products, that is RF, software and production engineers, DSP chip designers, and marketing experience,” Fenton said. “At NovAtel, we completely redesigned the receiver from the antenna down.”

At about the same time, Fenton hit upon an insight that led to an industry first: true sub-meter pseudorange positioning capability.

“I realized that the signal processing design and tracking loops within the GNSS receivers of that day were optimized for maximal signal power to signal processing complexity ratio,” he explained. “They were not optimized for range or carrier phase tracking accuracy — the elements driving position accuracy. It was during this period that I came up with the Narrow Correlator concept.”

His invention, commercialized into the GPS1001 receiver in 1991, was five times more precise than the previous technology. It received the Better Mouse Trap Award that year from the Institute of Navigation (ION).

Today Fenton is vice-president and chief technology officer (CTO) for NovAtel, which has become a leading provider of GPS and augmentation components and subsystems designed for rapid integration into an endless variety of high precision, commercial applications.

At the tender age of 49, he holds 15 patents and has authored more than 20 technical articles for the ION. So significant are his contributions to the evolution of GNSS that his peers have recognized him with the ION Satellite Division’s highest honor: the Johannes Kepler Award.

Fenton is also known for projects that have significantly improved receiver capability to allow reliable positioning and precise navigation even in obstructed environments where GPS alone doesn’t work. Marine, mining, precision agriculture, and surveying and mapping are among the applications benefiting from such advancements.

On the Fast Track

For example, he has spent several years leading a small team that is integrating inertial measurement units with NovAtel’s GNSS receivers. The results of their success using digital terrain modeling (DTM) techniques to improve precise position output availability are showcased during telecasts of NASCAR and IndyCar races.

“Our challenge was to provide Sportvision a continuous stream of time-tagged position and velocity measurements from each race car,” Fenton said. “Sportvision uses this information to annotate the TV camera image stream with details such as the driver’s name, speed, and lap time while the race is underway.”

Sounds simple enough. But NASCAR tracks presented formidable challenges for radio frequency coverage, the lifeblood of GNSS technology.

“In addition to lots of steep bleachers there are cat walks around and over the track,” Fenton explained. “Probably the worst obstacle was the steel mesh catch fence that completely surrounds and overhangs the track. When the cars are up against the wall, more than half the sky is blocked by the catch fence.”

No sky, no satellite coverage. Not only that, but the tracks are very short. Laps can take as little as 15 seconds. “When a car is halfway around the track, it has blocked the other half of the sky. In this case, as a result, we could never lock in a satellite for more than 10 seconds.”

Using a DTM of the NASCAR track, Fenton’s team was able to constrain a car’s position. “This algorithm acted like an additional satellite and improved the availability substantially,” he explained. “But it wasn’t until we added integrated IMUs [inertial measurements units] that we were able to deliver 100 percent position and velocity availability.”

Fenton’s hallmark is a knack for finding and integrating technologies that drive powerful new applications. During the mid-1990s, as he rose from chief engineer to director of research and development, he was instrumental in NovAtel’s acquisition and commercialization of the MEDLL (Multipath Estimation Delay Lock Loop) technology, licensed from Delft University. WAAS, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s Wide Area Augmentation System, and the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) use it.

This powerful combination of scientific chops and market acumen earned Fenton a vice presidency in 1997 and the additional title of CTO in 2003. He was appointed to NovAtel’s board of directors in 2005.

The company’s latest generation OEMV series of GNSS receivers, released last year, illustrates the exponential changes in core technology that occur between versions. NovAtel’s “system on a chip” now has more than four million gates, almost eight times as many as its predecessor.

Fenton, who grew up in Canada’s capitol (Ottawa) has retained his zest for the outdoors including a passion for photography. He met his wife Tanis through her brother, a skiing buddy. They have three children; two in college and one in high school, and the entire family takes full advantage of Alberta’s rich recreational opportunities.

But even in the remotest glacier field, Fenton never completely loses touch with GNSS. Each winter he and a group of friends rent a backcountry hut and helicopter in for a week of alpine skiing. “Four times in our lives we’ve been up in a whiteout,” Fenton said. “We were able to navigate back to the hut with GPS.”

Fenton’s coordinates:
N51 06’ 59” W114 02’ 18”


Engineering Specialties
System conceptualization, GNSS receiver design and signal processing, multipath mitigation techniques, and firmware development.

His Compass Points
• Home and family: wife Tanis and three children, household activities, weekend trips, summer vacations, extended family, and friends
• Career: applied technology, mentoring, teamwork, business relationships, learning, and change
• Hobbies: photography, and outdoor activities

Favorite Equation
This formula is a derivative of the Central Limits Theorem. It’s a simple formula but I use it all the time to estimate expected signal-to-noise ratio levels at the output of hardware correlators at various stages of designing GNSS receivers.

GNSS “Aha” Moment
In the summer of 1985, I started developing position processing software from data Nortech had collected from their various survey operations. I realized that I could make a significant contribution.

First Significant GNSS Achievement
I came up with the Narrow Correlator concept. This technique made for a five-fold improvement in pseudo range accuracy, leading the way to reliable sub-meter positions.

GNSS Mentor
Probably the single person that I’ve learned the most from in GNSS over the years is Dr. A.J. Van Dierendonck. He was the chief scientist with Stanford Telecommunications Inc. where we were sourcing GPS receiver channels for the first GPS product I was involved with in 1986. He has been a technical consultant with us, periodically, for nearly 20 years.

GNSS Event that Most Signifies That GNSS had “Arrived”
I think the first Gulf war with all the publicity and TV images of the smart weapons provided a huge boost to the popularity and awareness of GNSS. Before that time, I always had to explain what GPS was. After that time, everyone seemed to have a good appreciation for what GNSS was.

Influences of Engineering on His Daily Non-Work Life
My engineering mind is always churning. For example, over the last couple of years my wife and I built an energy-efficient house. I was heavily involved with all the engineering aspects of that; producing all the CAD construction drawings, design of all the mechanical systems including the in-floor geo-thermal heating system, and the networks for phone and internet connectivity to all the rooms.

Popular Notions about GNSS That Most Annoy
The notion that GNSS will work deep indoors, under ground, or under water – perhaps for oil exploration at the bottom of a drill tip or for diving. If you can’t pick up FM radio, then most likely your GPS won’t work.

Favorite Non-GNSS Activities
Winter: skiing, snowboarding, alpine touring
Spring/Summer/Fall: cycling, canoeing, camping, sailing, fly fishing
All seasons: photography

What’s Next
There are several possibilities. The first would be multi-constellation, multi-frequency GNSS. This is where a single receiver tracks multiple satellite constellations (GPS, Galileo, GLONASS, etc.) and provides a blended robust position solution. The second may come from time of arrival (TOA) positioning of cellular phone tower signals. The density of cell phone towers is continuing to increase. At a certain point, the use of TOA processing of cell signals will rival consumer GPS for the large urban and indoor markets.


The Two Worlds of Philip Mattos

Aside from messing about in boats on the estuary near his holiday house in Rock, a village in Cornwall, few activities delight Philip Mattos quite so much as solving the constellation of challenges involved in creating Galileo-ready receivers targeted to reach European consumers within two years.

Aside from messing about in boats on the estuary near his holiday house in Rock, a village in Cornwall, few activities delight Philip Mattos quite so much as solving the constellation of challenges involved in creating Galileo-ready receivers targeted to reach European consumers within two years.

Mattos is the chief engineer for GPS and navigation at STMicroelectronics R&D Ltd. in Bristol, the largest city in southwest England. Located near the mouth of the River Avon, Bristol’s economy centers on the aerospace industry and information technology. The area’s dependence on navigation traces back to its emergence as a major port city in the 12th century.

And while these facts about his home provide a nice bit of context, nothing really explains Mattos’s genius for GNSS. His prolific contributions, which touch hundreds of millions of people around the globe, seem all the more remarkable considering that the 1948 tractor he keeps for mowing his field represents the peak of technologies associated with his rural English childhood.

“Engineering clearly has formed me over the years,” he says with relish. “If something appears broken, take it apart and fix it!”

Since 2004, Mattos has focused on developing a new chip for a project funded by GR-POSTER, the acronym for the Galileo-Ready POSitioning TERminal Consortium. It’s the next big step toward the launch of Europe’s independent satellite navigation system, and Mattos has been breaking trail in this direction for nearly 30 years.

An Early Start in GPS

A Cambridge graduate, Mattos earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electronic engineering. His career began at British Telecom Research Labs, the equivalent to Bell Labs in the U.S. “They sponsored me through additional master’s degrees in telecoms and computer science from Essex; so, I was with them for about nine years,” he says. “At the end of my career there I was specializing in the architecture of the actual processor in microcomputers.”

When the British government set up the semiconductor industry in 1979, Mattos was recruited by INMOS (now STMicroelectronics) to help build the transputer, the United Kingdom’s first 32-bit micro. That’s when he happened across a feature in an electronics magazine that inspired him to develop a demonstration application using LORAN. “But there was a hold on the market.” he says. “Nobody wanted LORAN because GPS was ‘just around the corner.’ Of course, it stayed ‘just around the corner’ for about seven more years.”

So Mattos moved on to doing a GPS demonstrator, helped by a year’s posting to Colorado Springs in the United States. Back then, Mattos worked as “a team of one.” His presentations at conferences in Dallas and London led to partnerships with Inmarsat, Bristol University, and Columbus Positioning that supported taking a software-only demo to full-fledged prototypes integrating radio frequency, software, and hardware. The resulting handheld GPS was launched at the Royal Institute of Navigation conference in 1989 and the London Boat Show in 1990.

On to Galileo

When the sum of these efforts produced a dedicated chip for GPS in 1996, the way was opened for mass-market products and, in turn, increased resources for research. Four years ago, Mattos did the blue-sky thinking for the Galileo-ready chips now being perfected at five STMicroelectronics sites in Europe and India. At the moment, he divides his time mainly between England and Italy.

“In Italy, they work deep in silicon, doing detailed design and verification to check that the silicon we’re about to create is exactly what the people who designed the silicon asked for, and what I asked for when creating the specifications,” Mattos says. “The cost of manufacturing the chip is a huge investment. Our company does it from end to end, from initial design to final test.”

In addition to earning a Ph.D. from Bristol University for his work on GPS, Mattos holds nine patents: eight in the area of GNSS and one in telecommunications. His latest invention, patented earlier this year, provides extended use of broadcast ephemeris. Last year, he received a patent for new methods of processing multi-signal GNSS services, which applies to Galileo and GPS III signals.

His major innovations also include development of the HPGPS in the Teseo and Cartesio basebands as well as a new RF chip, applications which arose from his 2001 patent on accelerated acquisition of GPS signals and his 2003 patents on GPS code acquisition and GPS radio clock generation. Earlier, he obtained patents for microprocessor control of a packet-switched data exchange (1976) and the GPS radio design that led to the STB5600 RF IC (1996).

Asked to name a few milestones in his career, Mattos offered this list:

• Producing the prototype GPS/satcom for Inmarsat in 1990
• Developing the first fully integrated baseband with just 3 chips (compared to 14 in the 1990 model) in partnership with Panasonic, in 1995
• Creating a complete system in two chips, with the baseband having integrated memory and the RF portion being a single chip based on his doctoral work at Bristol University, in 1998
• Widespread acceptance of Vespucci in the automotive market, which changed from the ST20 processor to the ARM7 with embedded Flash memory, in 2001
• The success of Palinuro, with the RF front end on the same chip as the digital baseband, making a one-chip solution from antenna to PVT output, in 2003

The Future in GNSS

Currently, he’s involved in partnerships with Galileo Joint Undertaking in the GR-POSTER Project; ST teams in Bristol, Milan, Naples, and Catania; and lead customers (whose names are not public) on the following projects:

• A high performance 16-channel GPS plus RF chip for Teseo by the end of the year
• A high performance 32-channel GPS, with full PDA/PND functionality, for Cartesio (by early 2007)
• Cartesio’s extended version, with Galileo, for 2008

Mattos also makes time to consult on the next generation of GNSS chips including one-chip GPS (radio frequency plus digital) and high sensitivity GPS for indoor applications.

When the European Union and the European Space Agency launch their 30 Galileo satellites about two years from now, Mattos expects the most noticeable difference for navigation users will be the availability of service in urban canyons. Some indoor areas will be more accessible as well, though not those made of dense materials like concrete or metal.

“Galileo’s biggest benefit is that it can be combined with GPS and be compatible,” Mattos says. “If you’re down in an urban canyon, there will be enough satellites in the sky that your navigation system will continue to work. We need four or five satellites to operate properly and we don’t get that today in urban canyons. With GPS and Galileo together, we will.”

Mattos’s coordinates:
51° 32.450 N 2° 34.600 W


Engineering Specialties
“From 1990 to 1995 I was a team of one, so I needed to do everything – design engineering, system integration, software, hardware, signal processing, RFIC, and so on. Once the system was proven, more people were allocated and areas delegated. Now I specialize in architecture, system level design, advanced signals and DSP, tending to move away from GPS and towards Galileo. As a system specialist I advise the silicon experts, both RF and baseband, but leave the detail design to them.”

His Compass Points
• A childhood in the country, “before any of the technological stuff”
• Going to Cambridge
• Buying his first house “way out in the country looking out at the marshes and the river, which reinforced my existing love of the country, love of the water, and dislike of cities.”

Favorite Equation
The great circle distance between two points on the earth.

D = r x arrcos {sin φ1 sin φ2 + cos φ1 cos φ2 cos Δλ}

GNSS “Aha” Moment
I was demonstrating my software-based LORAN system, when a sales manager who was also a yachtie said, ‘This is pointless. LORAN will be replaced by GPS in a year or two.’ It’s 18 years later and the world is still having that debate!”

First Significant GNSS Achievement
In 1987 he worked in the same building as now, for his current employer (at that time, called INMOS) making the transputer, a then-revolutionary 32-bit microprocessor. “Having been advised that LORAN would be replaced by GPS, I did a demo of a software GPS, with one processor emulating the satellite, and a second processor performing all the DSP correlation, and demodulation in software to acquire and track the signal. The goal was to demonstrate the very high computing performance of the transputer processor: software GPS in 1987!”

Why he fell in love with GNSS
“My interests were boats, electronics, computers, and radio. How else to combine them all and play on company time? The challenge was to do something that covered so many technical areas, from antennas, low noise amplifiers, radio frequencies, digital signal processing, baseband, software, and map-matching, to dead-reckoning equipment, and have ownership of the entire design. This entire system was demonstrated in 1992, when a color map meant placing a six-inch CRT (cathode ray tube) display in a car. I have the TV to this day.”

GNSS Event that Most Signifies that GNSS has “Arrived”
Shipping the company’s Palinuro single-chip GPS. “Connect active antenna, power, and RS232 comm port to a PC/PDA and you have a GPS.”

Popular Notions about GNSS that Most Annoy
First, that the $2,000 box in the car is a GPS. “The GPS is the $15 module inside the box that delivers PVT.” Second most annoying, that the satellites track the user. “They have no idea you exist.”

Dream Device
An all-bands radio, initially a receiver but also a transmitter that listens to all the channels for all the aircraft, all the boats, and all the ships. It would display the active ones on screen and record activity so that one needn’t be present to monitor it. “You can get this information now, just not all in one place. It’s not what they call rocket science, because all the elements have been done. It’s a matter of bringing it all together. Such a device would let me feel a part of things when I’m at the office, working in the garden, or engaged in the ongoing refurbishment of our holiday house.”

What’s Next
Galileo in consumer vehicles throughout Europe.

Galileo-Ready POSitioning TERminal
(GR-POSTER) Project: www.st.com/stonline/galileo


Karen Van Dyke: Re-Engineering the Airways

Karen Van Dyke at Glacier Bay National Park near Juneau, Alaska

Karen Van Dyke probably isn’t someone you’d expect to see driving around Virginia with one hand piloting the steering wheel and the other gripping a map. But for Van Dyke, an electrical engineer who wryly describes herself as “geographically challenged,” the maps piled on her passenger seat remain a lifeline even though two years have passed since she moved from her native Boston to Washington D.C.

“It’s my GPS secret,” she admits. “When I get lost, I tell my husband that’s why I work in this field.”

Karen Van Dyke probably isn’t someone you’d expect to see driving around Virginia with one hand piloting the steering wheel and the other gripping a map. But for Van Dyke, an electrical engineer who wryly describes herself as “geographically challenged,” the maps piled on her passenger seat remain a lifeline even though two years have passed since she moved from her native Boston to Washington D.C.

“It’s my GPS secret,” she admits. “When I get lost, I tell my husband that’s why I work in this field.”

Why doesn’t one of the profession’s leading innovators have GPS in her car? The answer reveals just how recently GPS has come into its own. “When I bought my car in 2001, adding a navigation system wasn’t an option,” she explains. “I’d gladly have paid extra for it.”

Since then, GPS has vaulted the divide between geek speak and consumer chic. “Legislation has brought it into our cell phones. The world’s banks rely on it to time stamp their transactions,” says Van Dyke. “Eventually, coordinates will be part of every product and process in our lives – but first GPS must be improved and integrated with other technologies in order to achieve accurate positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) information anytime and anywhere.”

That challenge keeps Van Dyke on her toes in her work for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Her specialty: incorporating GPS into the transportation infrastructure for various applications.

Little did she know, when she accepted a summer research job following her graduation from the University of Lowell in 1988, that she was sealing her professional fate. Her professor, Dr. James Rome, was doing a project for the John A. Volpe Transportation Systems Center looking at whether a new system, GPS, might reduce aircraft separation on the North Atlantic routes by providing position information where there was no radar coverage.

“That summer gave me an opportunity to learn about GPS, which I found to be a fascinating technology with tremendous future applications,” Van Dyke says. By summer’s end, she was hired by Volpe, part of the DOT Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA).

She says her engineering mentor, Frank Tung, modeled a well-rounded approach toward the profession. Tung was director of aviation programs when she joined Volpe and has since retired. “He always emphasized enjoying what you work on and ensuring that your work contributed to making a positive difference for the organization and transportation community,” she says.

For Van Dyke, one of the most enjoyable aspects of her work is its global nature.

“Many countries have approached the Volpe Center for assistance with development of similar satellite outage reporting systems for air navigation – especially third world countries that do not have the sophisticated ground-based infrastructure that the U.S. has,” she says. “The cost-effective and innovative benefits that GNSS technology can provide to them are tremendous.”

Van Dyke is a Fellow and past president of the Institute of Navigation (ION) whose many publications include collaborating on the first and second editions of the book, Understanding GPS: Principles and Applications. She has received the Meritorious Achievement Award (Silver Medal) from the Secretary of Transportation, the Superior Achievement Award (Bronze Medal) from the Research and Special Programs Administrator, and the ION Early Achievement Award.

She has helped spearhead many innovations – including these personal favorites:

GPS RAIM Outage Reporting Systems

Van Dyke led the Volpe Center team that designed, developed, and implemented GPS RAIM satellite outage reporting systems for both the U.S. Air Force and the FAA. These receiver autonomous integrity monitoring systems brief GPS availability to pilots during pre-flight planning to support use of TSO C129a receivers.

“Subsequently, similar work was performed for Australian, German, and Chilean aviation authorities on the implementation of systems for use by pilots and air traffic control in those countries,” she says.

Prior to commissioning the GPS Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) in 2003, she led a team that supported the FAA in development of the WAAS prediction model and integration into the air traffic control system to supply Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) information for all phases of flight, including precision approaches.

Reducing Vulnerability

In 2001, she participated in a Volpe Center project that produced sixteen recommendations for reducing the vulnerability of the transportation infrastructure that relies on GPS. The project was done in response to the President’s Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection.

The team’s study of GPS civilian aviation, maritime, and surface uses assessed the effects of GPS outages and recommended steps to minimize the safety and operational impacts of both short and long term disruptions.


Van Dyke headed the Volpe Center team that developed the prototype traceability requirements tool for the GPS Joint Program Office. That led to the creation of an internal website whose acronym is GPS STARWEB, or GPS Specifications Traceability and Analysis of Requirements. STARWEB uses DOORS software – Dynamic Object Oriented Requirements — for its integrated database that establishes relationships and traceability of requirements within the GPS system.

“This equips the civil GPS community with the information necessary for informed decision making,” she says.

Currently, Van Dyke has several projects going at once. Recently, she has been supporting development of GPS III, evaluating the specifications for the future space and control segment.

She’s also working with the Federal Railroad Administration and Ohio University on the High Performance Nationwide Differential GPS initiative to evaluate whether it can be designed to meet requirements for Positive Train Control and other high accuracy applications.

Another collaboration addresses the potential use of WAAS for maritime applications. She heads a Volpe Center team that is working with Innovative Solutions International (ISI) to develop a GNSS Performance Monitoring System (GPMS) for the Brazil Aviation Authority. This system is responsible for ensuring that satellite-based systems provide a continuous, safe, and reliable signal-in-space (SIS) for navigation users.

And, with all that, she still finds time to volunteer. She has been the air navigation technical representative for the Institute of Navigation (ION) since 1992 and served as ION’s eastern region representative and president (2000-2001).

Lisa Beaty, ION’s director of operations, says “Karen’s international technical reputation precedes her, but many people may not know about her countless hours of volunteer service within the navigation community, including fostering the development of programs for the next generation of navigation professionals.”

Van Dyke’s coordinates:
39° 38.921 N 077° 08.231 W



Engineering Specialties
Identifying positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) requirements for transportation applications, as well as development and deployment of GPS monitoring and service prediction tools.


Favorite Equation
The Keplerian parameters describing orbital motion. Most of the applications we have developed for GPS prediction systems and the analysis begins with modeling the GPS constellation performance based on Keplerian motion, Van Dyke points out.


First Significant GNSS Achievement
Back when there wasn’t a full constellation of satellites, Van Dyke was part of the Volpe Center project team that helped develop Receiver Autonomous Integrity Monitoring (RAIM) algorithms to predict the availability of GPS integrity for oceanic through non-precision approach phases of flight. The limitation was availability of service, which then led to development of the augmentation systems.


Her Compass Points
Engineer husband Ken Kepchar is, “one of those people who was born with a built-in navigation sensor.” They met at the GPS Joint Program Office at the Los Angeles Air Force Base.

Rather than follow the herd into high tech computer firms when she finished engineering school, Van Dyke’s fascination with early GPS technology led her to take a position with the John A. Volpe Transportation Systems Center.

The University of Lowell (Massachusetts) where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering (1988 and 1991).

Knew GNSS had Arrived When . . .
“When I first began working on GPS, my friends and family had never heard of it. I would have to explain what the acronym GPS stood for, what the system was, and the various applications of the technology. Over time, my friends and family began telling me about GPS applications they had read about in the paper or seen on the news. Now that the term GPS is commonly used in the media – it has arrived!

Popular Notion about GNSS That Most Annoys
“It is disappointing when I hear someone in the international community say that the U.S. Department of Defense can turn off GPS anytime they want. It is simply not true. The U.S. government has worked very hard to establish national space-based positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) policy with a coordination office, headed by a civilian, with civil and military representation. The national space-based PNT Executive Committee is co-chaired by the Deputy Secretaries of Transportation and Defense.”

Consumer Engineering Wish List
“My own on-board navigation system with voice is number one on my Christmas list.”

What’s Next
Integration of GPS with other navigation sensor technology and development of a net-centric approach for reliable distribution of PNT information.


Allison Kealy: The Remarkable Art of the Possible

Allison Kealy caught the GNSS bug at age 18 while waiting beneath the starry skies of Trinidad for the moment when enough satellites would become available to allow an Ashtech receiver to compute her position. Up to that point, her training as a surveyor was limited to land-based equipment.

Allison Kealy caught the GNSS bug at age 18 while waiting beneath the starry skies of Trinidad for the moment when enough satellites would become available to allow an Ashtech receiver to compute her position. Up to that point, her training as a surveyor was limited to land-based equipment.

“It was 1990 and we were standing in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night, which was the only time you could use GPS then,” Kealy recalled. “It took a lot of imagination to see that we really were on the edge of cutting technology. More than 10 years later we were standing at the same spot, talking about GLONASS and GALILEO.”

During that time Kealy’s interest in technology and GNSS propelled her from her birthplace in Trinidad, a village of approximately 10,000 called Penal, to the UK’s University of Newcastle for a doctoral degree in geodesy. Ultimately, the journey led her to the University of Melbourne in Australia where, in 1999, she was the first woman appointed to an academic position in the Department of Geomatics.

Mapping Australia’s Aboriginal Art

Her pioneering spirit is perhaps most evident in her contributions to an exceptional project cataloguing some 50 Aboriginal paintings at Australia’s iconic Uluru (Ayers Rock). In 1985 ownership of Ayers Rock was returned to the local Anangu people who consider it sacred and have called it Uluru (pronounced oo-luh ROO) for at least 40,000 years. In 1987, Uluru National Park was declared a World Heritage site.

At the request of the Anangu, a team of Melbourne scientists including Kealy was enlisted to create a digital record of the rock art. “To create a map that would allow us to establish a historical record, we needed to get the coordinates so it would be possible to revisit the sites in the future,” Kealy said. “Some of the art is located in places that GPS alone won’t reach. The team was keen to investigate the use of combined GPS and GLONASS receivers; so, I came along to run that part of it.”

Their task was complicated by the secrecy surrounding many Aboriginal sites and the need to minimize their movement on the massive landform out of respect for the Anangu, who do not climb Uluru because of its great spiritual significance. The team was granted a unique exception in order to gain access to paintings located within the walls of the enormous red sandstone monolith, which rises abruptly more than 300 meters above the Australian plains and stretches nine kilometers around its base. When viewed from a jet, Uluru resembles a colossal Paleolithic cutting tool pointing eastward.

“Some sites are considered very sacred and are not accessible to the public,” Kealy said. Some are accessible only to men, some only to women, some only to women who have had children.”

The Melbourne team was nearly stymied by cross-cultural communication gaps.

“At one point our Anangu guides thought that the GPS was like satellite transmissions,” said Kealy, whose efforts to undo misunderstandings included scratching illustrations into the dirt to show how the technology worked. “They were afraid we were beaming the images elsewhere. It took a lot of work to convince them otherwise. You didn’t want to abuse the trust and you weren’t sure what the protocols were. An Aboriginal woman who worked for the parks service helped me become more aware of what was going on.”

Fostering a Tradition of Innovation

The Uluru project was done in 2000, the same year that Kealy received The University of Melbourne’s prestigious Universitas 21 Fellowship for Excellence in Teaching and Research. The following year she received the prize for the best research paper at the Institute of Navigation (ION) international conference in Salt Lake City. And she had yet to celebrate her 30th birthday.

Currently she is supervising the doctoral work of eight men and women. In less than six years her lab has published an impressive number of articles in international journals. At the same time, her work developing interactive multimedia environments for teaching satellite positioning and integrated systems in geomatics has won grants and accolades.

Kealy and one of her students, Stephen Scott-Young, were the first Australians to win a BMW Scientific Award for developing a driver’s aid capable of compensating for zero visibility due to whiteout conditions, pea soup fog, or the torrential rains common in tropical places like Kealy’s native Trinidad.

“This is an in-car navigation screen that gives you a graphical image of what is ahead so you can see the edge of the road, the center line, and where you are relative to the other the markers on the road,” she explained. “We also did some thinking about having other cars equipped to give information about their locations as well.” When Scott-Young finished his Ph.D. in 2005, he received an ION student award for his work on the project.

Kealy credits her mentor and Ph.D. advisor, Paul Cross, with igniting her own enthusiasm about teaching and research. Cross is department head and Leica Professor of Geomatic Engineering at University College in London.

“He was quite enthusiastic about what he was doing and was very patient and encouraging with me,” Kealy said. “He inspired me to look at situations where GPS didn’t work, and to think about ways of integrating of GPS with other technologies. He demonstrated that success wasn’t only about knowing your stuff, but that it was just as important to build relationships with people.”

The ability to imagine alternatives continues to guide Kealy’s reactions to requests for using GPS in new ways. Recently she became involved in a project for an Australian company that supplies drug addicts with clean needles.

“They want to do a documentary showing the life cycle of one of these packs of disposable syringes,” she said. “They were looking for a tracking technology for this application. GPS won’t work in the way that they originally envisioned, but we are coming up with combinations of technologies that can be used to track the packs.”

Kealy expects the future to bring applications that may seem extreme now – but then, she can remember wondering at the notion that satellites would soon render land-based surveying stations obsolete.

“It’s hard not to feel very humbled by the opportunities I’ve had,” she said. “Sometimes the research that you do when you’re in a more developed country seems like a luxury. I give my teachers in Trinidad a lot of credit for getting me started.”

Kealy’s coordinates:
37° 48’ 00.228”S 144° 57’ 38.460E


Engineering Specialties
Sensor fusion and measurement integration

Her Compass Points

  • Aidan, her 11-month-old son
  • England, where she earned her doctoral degree in geodesy and met her husband, Tim, a rheologist from Ireland
  • Trinidad, her home country
  • Australia, where she is the first woman appointed to the geomatics department at The University of Melbourne

Paul Cross

“He is incredibly inspirational. He visited Trinidad the year that I finished my undergraduate degree. He was and still is quite visionary about satellite positioning.”

Favorite Equation
Weighted least squares estimation

x = (ATWA)-1 ATWb

GNSS Event That Most Signified that GNSS has “Arrived”

Popular Notion About GNSS That Most Annoys
“That you don’t need to understand GNSS to use it – just switch on a receiver and off you go. Current generation GNSS still has its limitations.”

Current Research
Through 2008 Kealy is part of several research teams working towards improving the quality estimates provided for real-time positioning applications; enhanced atmospheric modeling for extending the range of centimeter level real-time positioning across CORS networks; GNSS for real-time weather forecasting and integrated positioning for augmented reality applications.

Influence of Engineering on Her Daily Non-Work Life
“I’m a big fan of ‘if you work with technology you must live it.’ I surround myself with technologies that are designed to make life easier.”

Favorite Non-GNSS Activities
“Spending time with my family and traveling.”

On Being a New Mother
“I’m treating it like another research project, going through the process of figuring it out as it goes along. With no instruction manual or 24-hour technical support line it’s a challenge. I’m back to work full time now and lucky to have a fantastic husband and very supportive colleagues and friends.”

Human Engineering is a regular feature that highlights some of the personalities behind the technologies, products, and programs of the GNSS community. We welcome readers’ recommendations for future profiles. Contact Glen Gibbons, glen@insidegnss.com.


October 20, 2007

Public Private Perplexity

High up in one corner of a trophy hall in the castle of the Bavarian royal dynasty in Berchtesgaden, Germany, hangs a poignant scene of inextricable conflict and death: the heads of two mighty stags, their antlers locked in combat.

Our tour guide translated the story behind this tableau. On October 14, 1735, a hunting party from the castle discovered the pair of struggling animals. Unable to separate the entangled antlers and with one deer’s neck already broken, the hunters had to shoot the other stag.

High up in one corner of a trophy hall in the castle of the Bavarian royal dynasty in Berchtesgaden, Germany, hangs a poignant scene of inextricable conflict and death: the heads of two mighty stags, their antlers locked in combat.

Our tour guide translated the story behind this tableau. On October 14, 1735, a hunting party from the castle discovered the pair of struggling animals. Unable to separate the entangled antlers and with one deer’s neck already broken, the hunters had to shoot the other stag.

A quiet murmur fell over the tour group, a post-conference excursion of delegates from the Munich Satellite Navigation Conference, as we reflected on the brute intransigence of nature. Then a voice spoke up from the back of the crowd: “That’s what happens when you have a PPP.”

Public Private Partnership or PPP, the now-notorious solution to a temporary impasse in Europe’s Galileo program. How quickly shibboleth can turn into epithet.

The laughter that followed the delegate’s wry comparison of death throes and thwarted politics drew strength from the discussions we had heard in the three previous days.

Prolonged negotiations have broken down between public patrons of Galileo and the private consortium seeking to complete and operate the European GNSS. The two sides have not come to terms over several major elements of risk-sharing associated with the program. The consortium has failed to incorporate a Galileo Operating Company (GOC), which would manage the system infrastructure as a profit-seeking venture under the oversight of the European GNSS Supervisory Authority (GSA).

“The negotiations are far more difficult than anyone anticipated,” Matthias Ruete, director general of energy and transport for the European Commission (EC), told his Munich summit audience.

Added Pedro Pedreira, executive director of the GSA, an EC entity that took over public sector responsibilities for Galileo at the beginning of the year, “The consortium is not able to present its own [unified] terms, let alone negotiate those terms.”

For their part representatives of the private consortium, while complaining that engineering changes and an elusive business model derived from the Galileo infrastructure were complicating the situation, acknowledged the new stalemate and their own internal disunity.

As this issue of Inside GNSS went to press, the problem was on its way to the council of European transport ministers meeting on March 22.

In its nearly 14 years of evolution, Europe’s GNSS program has met many such obstacles and, ultimately, always found a way through or around them. But never, as Ruete commented to me, have the challenges needed to be dealt with at such a high level.

And perhaps never with such urgency in the context of a global surge in GNSS expansion and modernization. China’s proposed new Compass system, the U.S. GPS III initiative, and restoration of Russia’s GLONASS are all scheduled (perhaps wishfully) to take place before or about the same time as Galileo is now expected to reach full operational capability around 2010–12.

PPP, a solution in the political environment of 1999, has now created a larger problem than the one it solved. Consequently, the public sector has a large responsibility for ensuring that it brings sufficient resources to resolve the current situation.

For years many in Europe have started referring to PPP as meaning, “Public Pays Private,” referring to the practical necessity for public subsidy — overt or covert — of an infrastructure that will ultimately pay for itself in the tax revenues generated by user equipment, services, and applications and not solely from revenues derived directly from the system itself.

For their part, the individual companies comprising the consortium need to resist the temptation of short-term competitive maneuvers or opportunistic national interests and reach an accord with the GSA.

Otherwise, without a two-sided exercise of self-discipline, it won’t matter which of these entangled entities gets its neck broken and which gets shot.




GNSS Marketplace

I like the marketplace.

I really do.

I love the energy, the innovation, the diversity, the pricing mechanism of demand curves, the buyer-seller feedback loops, the promotional hoopla, the whole deal.

I like the marketplace.

I really do.

I love the energy, the innovation, the diversity, the pricing mechanism of demand curves, the buyer-seller feedback loops, the promotional hoopla, the whole deal.

In the rather remote town where I live, we have a Saturday Market that’s more than 30 years old. Every week a bunch of home-grown entrepreneurs set up their booths with pottery, tie-dyed shirts, fresh blueberries, metal sculptures, Guatemalan tamales, jewelry, everything imaginable. There’s colorful banners waving and musicians playing and aging hippies dancing.

And — just to let you know how far we are outside not merely the D.C. Beltway but outside the whole North American Free Trade Agreement zone — all the products sold in the market must be grown or made by the people selling them.

Of course, the market can’t do everything.

It apparently can’t produce enough bird flu vaccine to protect a nation or distribute enough food in the right place to prevent hunger in the midst of plenty. And one thing many people wouldn’t have expected the market to do was produce a multitude of global navigation satellite systems.

But it has, with GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and perhaps even Beidou waiting in the wings.

And thank goodness for the marketplace, because it’s apparently going to take not merely a village, but a world to raise up a new generation of robust, modernized GNSS.

Fortunately, we have redundant programs, not merely redundant satellites. If one GNSS is delayed or changes its plan, another one is there to keep the parade moving forward. So, when Galileo sets itself hurdles, such as agreeing on not merely a concession contract but a business model as well, there’s GPS with its simple taxpayer-driven approach to keep things moving. And when GPS loses its way amid the engineering changes and chain-of-command silos of the military-industrial complex, there’s GLONASS speeding up its schedule in a race to the future.

Hopefully, by the time GLONASS encounters its next economic or technical or political challenge, Galileo and GPS will be back on track.

Yes, we definitely are in another “two-steps-forward-one-step-back” phase of GNSS development.

In an industrious and cooperative surge of activity, we have seen three sets of draft specifications reach fruition in the last few weeks: publication of a joint recommendation for design of new civil signals on GPS and Galileo, the Galileo Interface Control Document, and the GPS L1C interface specification.

Although further discussion and revisions are inevitable, these anxiously awaited items will provide guidance to GNSS product designers and encouragement to users.

Meanwhile, however, we once again have to wonder: what’s going on — or, more to the point, not going on — with the GPS program? In a short span of time, we’ve seen new delays in the first launch of a GPS Block IIF satellite (originally planned for 2005), a possible yearlong delay in GPS III, and a missed deadline for awarding an important contract on modernized user equipment for the Department of Defense (DoD) community.

Those developments underscore the need for implementing a recommendation in the Defense Science Board Task Force on GPS report: coordinate DoD responsibilities for GPS by designating a single focal point within the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Currently, as with many other defense programs, the GPS program has three separate decision-making channels for acquisition, budget, and command. What in a well-managed organization might serve as supporting columns for a common endeavor have turned into self-contained silos sheltering processes, personnel, and purposes that become laws unto themselves. These parallel, non-convergent functions are producing asynchronous, discontinuous results.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Donald England has reportedly kicked the Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) Executive Committee meeting schedule into high gear; perhaps he’s the man to do the same for the PNT program itself.




Bring Out the Galileo ICD

Here’s an idea whose time may have finally arrived: release of an Interface Control Document (ICD) for the Galileo open service (OS) — in essence, a set of specifications to which engineers can design and manufacturers can build receivers.

Here’s an idea whose time may have finally arrived: release of an Interface Control Document (ICD) for the Galileo open service (OS) — in essence, a set of specifications to which engineers can design and manufacturers can build receivers.

European sources suggest that publication of the ICD could take place around April 20 and would fill in some key missing details. This development follows on the heels of a late-March decision by a bilateral U.S./European technical working group that the future GPS civil signal (L1C) and the Galileo OS will use an optimized version of the BOC (1,1) format tentatively accepted under the 2004 agreement on GPS/Galileo cooperation.

If realized in action, this would be doubly welcome news for manufacturers, design engineers, and system developers eager to exploit the promise of expanded, modernized GNSS signals. It would also help sustain the surge of interest in Galileo that has taken place since launch of the program’s first experimental spacecraft last December.

Over the last couple of years, a series of papers coauthored by members of the European Commission (EC) Galileo Signal Task Force have laid out elements of the frequency plan and signal structure: RF bands, lengths and types of codes, data rates, and so forth. What had remained missing were the Galileo codes and the navigation message structure.

Some manufacturers have tried to overcome this problem by designing GNSS receivers with reconfigurable chips, using field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) that could be updated when the final spec became available. But such work-arounds are inherently messy, complicating sales and marketing efforts and building in a need for early upgrades and extra customer support.

Moreover, the absence of technical guidelines and standards inhibits engineering managers and companies in adapting new technologies, particularly those in sectors such as aviation and automotive engineering with lengthy design and certification cycles.

Galileo, of course, is a work in progress, and most people in the GNSS community understand that technical details will change as the project evolves. That was the situation with the Global Positioning System, in which smudged and much-photocopied documents circulated in the engineering community and helped with the design of GPS products that appeared long before the final official ICD in the early 1990s. What made the ad hoc process work and kept this GPS “living document” alive was the willingness of the GPS Joint Program Office and its contractors to communicate openly with the manufacturing community.

However, it was becoming unclear as to who was really in charge of the Galileo ICD process: the European Space Agency (ESA), the EC through its signal task force, the Galileo Joint Undertaking (GJU) negotiating the concession contract, the Galileo Supervisory Authority that will oversee the program, or even the concessionaire who would understandably want to claim every possible piece of Galileo-related intellectual property. And, finally, GARMIS, a consortium of 30 companies led by France Developpement Conseil holds a €4 million GJU contract to provide “engineering support for optimizing the Galileo documentation,” including the Galileo ICD.

In addition to this divided responsibility for the ICD, a divergence was occurring, not only between European and non-European companies, but even among European companies. That created the peculiar situation of one manufacturer announcing a GPS/Galileo-capable receiver with the caveat that the Galileo functionality was available only to customers authorized by ESA. Or a well-positioned European company offering a GNSS signal generator with Galileo functionality that the vendor claimed would always be a step ahead due to the company’s involvement in writing the Galileo ICD.

So, the prospect of an initial Galileo ICD appearing in the near future will dispel doubts, sustain enthusiasm for the project, and provide a crucial resource for the real work of engineering a better GNSS future.



October 18, 2007

STM Launches 32-Channel GPS Processor

STMicroelectronics has introduced Cartesio, its new automotive-grade application processor with embedded GPS for navigation and telematics. The processor couples with ST’s GPS RF chip (STA5620) to provide a core receiver unit.

Cartesio (STA2062) integrates a 32-bit ARM CPU core with a high-sensitivity 32-channel GPS subsystem and a large set of connectivity peripherals, including CAN, USB, UARTs, and SPI. It also provides on-chip high-speed RAM and real-time clock functionality, according to the company.

Read More >

By Glen Gibbons