R-Mode Baltic - A User Need Driven Testbed Development for the Baltic Sea

Marek Dziewicki, Stefan Gewies, and Michael Hoppe

Abstract: Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), today the primary mean for Position, Navigation and Timing (PNT) information on-board of a vessel, are highly vulnerable to unintentional and intentional interference like jamming or spoofing. Therefore, maritime community seeks for an alternative system to compensate this thread and follow the vision of the eNavigation strategy of International Maritime Organization (IMO), a safe navigation of vessels from berth to berth. The only alternative terrestrial backup for GNSS is the enhanced LOng-RAnge Navigation (eLORAN). However, that system will probably never reach global coverage because a substantial part of LORAN stations was shutdown in the years 2010 to 2015. There are only certain regions where it is still usable as well as Chayka, the Russian system. Today, in case of a temporal loss of GNSS no system can provide absolute positioning in areas with increased necessity for reliable navigation data provision on a global scale. One candidate for a terrestrial backup system is R(anging)-Mode which utilizes existing maritime radio infrastructure for the broadcast of modified signals, which allow distance estimation to the transmitter. First feasibility studies were done in the North Sea, in China and in South Korea. The Baltic Sea is due to the high number of vessels along the shipping routes and its sensitive marine ecosystem a suitable region for the implementation and testing of R-Mode firstly as a terrestrial backup system to GNSS. It will supplement navigation information in order to reduce the risk of collisions and groundings. New marine applications that require a continuous provision of position information will be made possible at sea, in coastal areas and in harbours. A consortium of 12 research institutions, administrations and industry of Germany, Poland, Sweden and Norway is currently engaged to setup the first R-Mode testbed, which utilizes IALA (International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities) beacons and Automatic Identification System (AIS) land stations for the broadcast of R-Mode enabled signals. This will be organized in the southern Part of the Baltic Sea until 2020 funded by EU within the scope of R-Mode Baltic Project. Beside this main goal of the Project (back-up to GNSS) further research and development activities will be conducted. This comprises the selection of most suitable way of R-Mode service implementation on IALA beacon and AIS signals without disruption of the legacy service. Further the selection of best algorithms for positioning either with only one type of R-Mode signals or with both is part of the research activities. In addition a concept development and test installation for the time synchronization of a transnational network of R-Mode stations which is currently maintained by independent national maritime administrations as well as the development of first prototypes of R-Mode receiver capable to cope with modified IALA beacons and/or AIS signals as well as R-Mode base station hardware for R-Mode signal generation is planned. Finally, with R-Mode enabled PNT data processing and Pilot Plug Unit the first two R-Mode applications will be made available. All this activities will be done in close contact with the maritime administrations, IALA, and maritime users. It is anticipated, that R-Mode will be a terrestrial backup system that can fulfil their need for robust and reliable PNT data for safe navigation at sea. Beside a general description of the project first results of a common coverage prediction for the IALA beacon and AIS communication channels for the Baltic Sea region will be estimated and presented. Latter shows that especially the relevant Baltic Sea region with its narrow passages of coastlines in the North (Denmark, Norway and Sweden) and in the South (Germany, Poland) is already well equipped with a dense network of IALA beacons and AIS stations in the vicinity of vessel routes. In case of positive Project results, upgrading all of them to R-Mode service level these would allow positioning in the entire region. Furthermore, the output of the requirement phase study on the R-Mode system and its components is presented. This was done starting from relevant documents of IMO and IALA requirements for a terrestrial backup system were extracted and next further broken down for specific components of the R-Mode system. This shall give guidance throughout the project when selecting appropriate algorithms, methods and technical solutions.
Published in: Proceedings of the 31st International Technical Meeting of the Satellite Division of The Institute of Navigation (ION GNSS+ 2018)
September 24 - 28, 2018
Hyatt Regency Miami
Miami, Florida
Pages: 1736 - 1764
Cite this article: Dziewicki, Marek, Gewies, Stefan, Hoppe, Michael, "R-Mode Baltic - A User Need Driven Testbed Development for the Baltic Sea," Proceedings of the 31st International Technical Meeting of the Satellite Division of The Institute of Navigation (ION GNSS+ 2018), Miami, Florida, September 2018, pp. 1736-1764. https://doi.org/10.33012/2018.15826
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