An Expendable GNSS Sensor for the Continuous Monitoring and Risk Profiling of Land and Infrastructure

William Roberts, Mike Hutchinson, Graeme Phipps, Alex Keal

Abstract: Centimetre level high accuracy GNSS is traditionally associated with professional or survey grade GNSS receivers and some form of carrier phase based positioning technique, such as Real Time Kinematic or Precise Point Positioning. It uses high cost equipment resulting in GNSS being considered price prohibitive for many applications and alternative technologies are routinely chosen. NSL have integrated commercial off the shelf (COTS) components into an innovative solution that provides up to 90% savings on professional GNSS receivers yet can still deliver accuracies of 1cm or better. The goal is to change the perception of our technology in certain markets so that accurate GNSS is considered an expendable sensor rather than specialist equipment. The sensor is known as STICK. STICK has been developed through a combination of internal investment and co-funded grant-based initiatives from the European Space Agency (ESA) and FutureRailway (a UK body set up by the rail industry to accelerate research, development and innovation) with the commercial exploitation being undertaken jointly by NSL and MONITEYE. ESA’s Integrated Application Promotion (IAP) programme has been designed to promote the use and subsequent commercialisation of services and applications that are enabled by at least two space based technologies. NSL and MONITEYE are partners in a number of ESA IAP feasibility and demonstration projects to nurture new markets and users, to determine their requirements and to demonstrate the capability of space technology. The projects are Liveland, Transport Infrastructure Monitoring Service (TIMS), Ground Infrastructure Risk Profiling (GIRP), Historic Buildings and Ancient Structures Management Service (HAMS) and Water Infrastructure Monitoring Service (WIMS). All have common core components in GNSS and satellite-based InSAR and a common objective, to allow users to better manage the risks and exposures of their infrastructure and associated assets against movement events. However, they have a different user base, requirements, service delivery and pricing expectations. They also have different requirements for the GNSS. For instance, the operating environment for Liveland is relatively open-sky and therefore good for GNSS signal reception whereas within GIRP a sensor maybe required to operate against the side of a domestic dwelling with limited sky/signal visibility. The latter is only feasible due to the fact that the users only require one reading per week and only that has become possible with the use of dual (or more) constellation GNSS RTK. STICK comprises a single frequency multi-constellation (GPS, GLONASS and in the future, Beidou and Galileo) GNSS module that provides carrier phase measurement data. It is combined with a processor, memory and storage, low power communications, cellular communications, battery and power supply, scavenging and recharging options into a single unit that can operate standalone or within a mesh-style network. It has been designed so that once installed in the differing hazardous environments, it requires limited direct/contact interaction. The STICK sensor is sufficiently low cost that it can be considered as expendable, in other words it does not need to be recovered and may be sacrificed once it has achieved its objective (for instance, the alerting of a landslide). Positioning is carried out away from the sensor either at a local hub or at a server. The resulting positions, movements and alerts are distributed to the users via an internet-enabled service. This paper describes the operational and functional capabilities of STICK, the differing user requirements that it has had to meet and the application areas and commercial opportunities that have been identified.
Published in: Proceedings of the 28th International Technical Meeting of the Satellite Division of The Institute of Navigation (ION GNSS+ 2015)
September 14 - 18, 2015
Tampa Convention Center
Tampa, Florida
Pages: 331 - 344
Cite this article: Roberts, William, Hutchinson, Mike, Phipps, Graeme, Keal, Alex, "An Expendable GNSS Sensor for the Continuous Monitoring and Risk Profiling of Land and Infrastructure," Proceedings of the 28th International Technical Meeting of the Satellite Division of The Institute of Navigation (ION GNSS+ 2015), Tampa, Florida, September 2015, pp. 331-344.
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