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Session D6: Aerial Vehicle Navigation

Accuracy Assessment of Two GPS Fidelity Prediction Services in Urban Terrain
Andrew Moore, Julian Gutierrez, Evan Dill, Michael Logan, J. Sloan Glover, Steven Young, Nathan Hoege, NASA Langley Research Center
Location: Cypress
Date/Time: Thursday, Apr. 27, 1:50 p.m.

Abstract—Low altitude flight in urban areas is susceptible to degraded GNSS-based navigation system performance due to terrain interference with radio signals from orbital positioning satellites. Predictive navigation performance fidelity tools are needed a) in preflight planning to assist in the creation of safe flight paths and b) in-flight to provide contingency management agents with the navigation risk of proximal flight corridors.

Two navigation fidelity prediction services are validated by comparison with over 6000 readings from GNSS sensors collected along a five-mile path through urban areas of Corpus Christi, Texas, on three dates in 2022. Predictions are based on satellite line of sight through 3D terrain data collected in 2018. Each service predicts a set of navigation fidelity metrics over a user-specified time period. One metric estimated by both is the number of visible satellites. A direct comparison of the number of predicted visible satellites with the number sensed by the receiver is used to validate the prediction services. Results show an exact match in the number of predicted satellites for 60% of the measurements, and a match within +/- 4 satellites for 95% of the measurements. As expected, agreement improves away from vertical blocking terrain. Most cases of mismatch are due a lower predicted count than measured (false negatives), and can be accounted for by receiver pickup of stray signals caused by multipath propagation. About 10% of mismatches are false positives and are mostly accounted for by foliage effects. The two services predict visibility of the same set of satellites 80% of the time, differ by two or less satellites 95% of the time, and can compute predictions for one hour of observations in one minute or less. Validation is analyzed statistically and in detailed case studies of selected observation times.

The prediction services validated in this study run fast enough for preflight safety planning. The more stringent challenge of inflight navigation fidelity prediction for contingency management requires both a speedup of the current level of modeling and equally fast stray signal modeling.

Keywords—GNSS, aviation, UAV, UAM, navigation

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