Predicting GPS Fidelity in Heavily Forested Areas

Andrew Moore, Nicholas Rymer, J. Sloan Glover, Derin Ozturk

Abstract: Abstract—There is a compelling need to advance the safety of low altitude flight in forested areas. Signal scattering by trees can interfere with GNSS signal reception and can cause navigation loss within and adjacent to woodlands. An estimate of the signal loss vs. foliage depth is needed to quantify navigational degradation by trees at low altitudes. A previous report described a method which attempts to quantify satellite signal degradation caused by foliage by comparing carrier-to-noise ratio (C/N0) to foliage depth along geometric rays cast from the receiver location to the orbital position of GNSS satellites through a 3D matrix of terrain data. A characteristic curve of attenuation vs. foliage depth was found for both L1 and L2 signals at a single forested site. The current study replicates this result at three additional sites, describes refinements to the method, and explores inherent uncertainties that arise from radiofrequency fading and from receiver limitations for weak signals. For the sites surveyed, 60% and 90% of navigational signal is lost at 10m and 20m of foliage depth, respectively. Since this technique uses low-cost hardware and readily available data collection software, it can allow aviators to estimate GNSS position fidelity in flight ranges near trees. Keywords—GPS, GLONASS, GNSS degradation, multilateration, fading, attenuation, foliage, UAV, UAS, lidar, voxel
Published in: 2023 IEEE/ION Position, Location and Navigation Symposium (PLANS)
April 24 - 27, 2023
Hyatt Regency Hotel
Monterey, CA
Pages: 772 - 780
Cite this article: Moore, Andrew, Rymer, Nicholas, Glover, J. Sloan, Ozturk, Derin, "Predicting GPS Fidelity in Heavily Forested Areas," 2023 IEEE/ION Position, Location and Navigation Symposium (PLANS), Monterey, CA, April 2023, pp. 772-780.
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