Spain: Automated vehicles are on the way, and the European GNSS Agency (GSA) sees satellite navigation as a core technology that will help to ensure their safe operation. At the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the GSA shared its space with the “ESCAPE” project, a European Union-funded initiative that has developed a unique positioning module for autonomous or semi-autonomous driving.
Autonomous vehicles will feature both sensor-based and connection-based solutions for a variety of vehicle services. Ultimately, the GSA sees a “converged solution” as the best alternative, combining the strengths of both approaches. By integrating sensor data and connectivity-based information, operators can reduce the need for the most expensive sensors and at the same time save money on infrastructure, the GSA stated in a news release.
The Fundamental Elements-funded ESCAPE project has designed and prototyped the ESCAPE GNSS Engine. It is a unique positioning module that combines precision GNSS and 4G connectivity, for the highly accurate and reliable positioning capabilities required to make automated driving a reality.
“This is an onboard unit for autonomous vehicles,” said Jessica Garcia Soriano, R&D engineer of the Advanced Communications Business Unit at Ficosa. “It is equipped with a very good GNSS receiver made by STMicroelectronics. This was actually the first dual-frequency GNSS receiver made for the automotive market.”
Dual-frequency is of course a real differentiator for Galileo, as the world’s leading provider of dual-frequency GNSS signals. This means added precision and robustness and it helps enormously with multi-phase errors and other urban canyon issues in city-driving scenarios.
The ESCAPE unit also provides for the integration of other data from the vehicle. “That means vehicle odometry, for instance, you can have camera information, or information from maps that are stored in the vehicle, among others” she added.
Garcia explained, “At Ficosa, we are a top-tier global provider devoted to the research, development, manufacturing of vision, safety, connectivity and efficiency systems for the automotive sector. We provide solutions directly to vehicle manufacturers. Based on our expertise and thanks to the work we have done on this project, we understand very well that GNSS is a central focus for a lot of applications. From the moment we started working on this project, at Ficosa we realized that this is a new and very important market. Right now we are working on a positioning system for autonomous driving based on this unit. This is part of our roadmap at the moment. This is a positioning system that we are ready to offer to the customer.”
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