ESNC Features Growing Drone Presence - Inside GNSS - Global Navigation Satellite Systems Engineering, Policy, and Design

ESNC Features Growing Drone Presence

Unmanned aerial systems (UAS), or drones, highlighted the entries at the 2016 European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC).

Unmanned aerial systems (UAS), or drones, highlighted the entries at the 2016 European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC).

An October 25 awards ceremony in Madrid, co-sponsored by the European GNSS Agency (GSA), showed the growing importance of drones to the satellite navigation industry. Approximately 11 out of 32 awards, from 400 total entries, went to drone applications, according to ESNC organizers.The focus on UAS was prompted by ESNC collaboration with Xunta de Galicia to encourage UAS-related submissions.

The overall winner was the GNSS-based GUAPO (GNSS-based UAV monitoring system for Airfields using Passive radar Observations) security system for early drone detection, classification, and tracking. The security system, designed by Carmine Clemente and a University of Strathclyde team, took home a 10,000-euro prize.

As the winner of the United Kingdom’s regional ESNC prize, the team will receive a package that includes financial and marketing support, consulting services, technical assistance, and more, the organization said.

The overall prize award comes at a time when unmanned systems’ safety concerns are growing such as drone crashes or encroachment on security-critical areas including airports and military installations. GUAPO, which factors in the electromagnetic characteristics of drones to offer continuous coverage, works in protection zones around airports, at large events, and with e-commerce deliveries, the organization said.

Another prize winner, spoofing-resistant GNSS receiver, or SPREE, features signal tracking and decoding algorithms that prevent a strong attacker from being able to spoof more than one kilometer away. SPREE designers include Aanjhan Rangenathan, Hildur Olafsdottir, and Srdjan Capkun.

A special prize sponsored by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) went to Piotr Krystek for an augmented crane navigation system (ACNS). The system, designed to increase efficiency and safety in tower crane operations, features GNSS receivers and a 3D digital model of construction sites to provide data on crane rotations and loads.

Civilian Drones Continue as GNSS Growth Market

This year’s ESNC addressed the drone market for the first time, competition organizers said. Citing a Business Insider article that estimates drone sales to be €11 million by 2021, the organizers said that commercial sales will quadruple because of ongoing technological advances and price competition.

"The large number of promising drone applications the ESNC received this year will aid our partner regions in positioning themselves in this future segment," said Thorsten Rudolph, CEO of Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen, an ESNC organizer.

Since 2004, ESNC has awarded 300 prizes, with nearly 3,800 entries, and more than 10,000 worldwide participants.