2017 Thurlow Award

Presented to: Dr. Yang Gao

Citation: For significant and sustained contributions and leadership in the development and application of Precise Point Positioning (PPP) and high-precision GNSS technology.


Dr. Yang Gao is an accomplished researcher who has dedicated his career to the development of precise positioning and navigation techniques, using GNSS from early real-time kinematic (RTK) to modern Precise Point Positioning (PPP) technologies. Dr. Gao recognized the value of PPP in making high precision obtainable at greater operational flexibility and lower operational cost using only a single receiver.

Dr. Gao led a research team at the University of Calgary that developed the first Precise Point Positioning software system (P3) available for licensing to worldwide users from both industry and academic sectors, contributing to the understanding and commercial use of PPP technology when the PPP concept was still new to most GPS users. The group was the first pioneer to develop a new positioning model to explore integer ambiguity resolution in PPP, a PPP/INS integrated system for direct geo-referencing, a realtime single-frequency PPP system to the industry, and a combined GPS/GLONSS PPP system for enhanced performance. Dr. Gao proposed a new positioning model for PPP (widely known as UofC model) that allows for exploitation of the integer characteristics of carrier-phase ambiguities and opens the door for the development of new algorithms for ambiguity resolution to support real-time PPP applications. This is considered the first work to explore integer ambiguity resolution within PPP. The group’s work in PPP, spanning 20 years, has resulted in several software systems and more than 100 technical papers.

Dr. Gao’s latest contributions include a triple-frequency signal based ambiguity resolution algorithm and a scalable and robust PPP correction service and positioning system (patents pending). Those technologies have been transferred to industry to develop next-generation PPP systems targeting mass-market applications.

Dr. Gao received his BSc and MSc in Surveying Engineering from Wuhan University, China and his PhD in Satellite Geodesy from the University of Calgary, Canada. He is currently a professor in Geomatics Engineering at the University of Calgary, Canada.