A global navigation satellite system (GNSS) is a space-based radiolocation system capable of providing 24h, three-dimensional coordinates and velocity and time information to suitably equipped users anywhere on the Earth’s surface or in near-Earth space, including a Multiple satellite constellations and their augmentation systems needed to support specific jobs.

A global navigation satellite system (GNSS) is a space-based radiolocation system capable of providing 24h, three-dimensional coordinates and velocity and time information to suitably equipped users anywhere on the Earth’s surface or in near-Earth space, including a Multiple satellite constellations and their augmentation systems needed to support specific jobs.

GNSS can be widely used in automobiles, industrial asset tracking, consumer electronics, smart cities/utilities, transportation, and industrial Internet of Things. It has far-reaching significance for global economic development, public safety and services.

In the case of automotive applications, as the degree of automotive automation increases, there may be more and more advanced functions that rely on high-precision safe positioning. As this evolution continues, GNSS receivers and related positioning services (including GNSS correction data, other types of GNSS augmentation services) will only become more important.

A few days ago, EEWORLD interviewed Stefania Sesia, Global Marketing Director of u-blox Automotive Applications, and elaborated on u-blox’s market insights for GNSS based on the development of u-blox and the current status of GNSS.

u-blox is a leading provider of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) solutions, tailored to each customer’s needs. The company has independent silicon intellectual property rights and can provide controllable quality, high performance, fast support and stable product life cycle. u-blox provides positioning and time products for in-vehicle navigation systems, cellular base station time synchronization, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and people and asset tracking. Its products set benchmarks in performance and cost-effectiveness with innovative advances in accuracy, anti-spoofing, power efficiency, size and cost.

u-blox’s positioning modules, SiPs, chips and antennas feature high performance, low power consumption, and provide accurate location data quickly. The extensive product portfolio includes standard precision, high precision, precision timing and inertial navigation solutions.

Here are the details of the conversation:

EEWORLD: It has been a few years since u-blox launched the F9 platform. How do you see the development of the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) market in recent years?

Stefania Sesia: The GNSS market has been growing rapidly in recent years, as more and more applications and devices require GNSS solutions for precise positioning.

In 2018, u-blox launched the F9 technology platform to meet the growing mass market demand for scalable solutions for GNSS high precision positioning. The platform integrates multi-band signals to simultaneously receive signals from four GNSS systems around the world to speed up time-to-first-fix. The F9’s dead reckoning feature provides reliable navigation in urban environments and lane recognition, as well as advanced jamming and spoofing detection, to the highest safety standards. From the field of surveying to heavy machinery to driverless cars, precision agriculture and high-precision miniature electric devices, it provides centimeter-level high-precision positioning for numerous industrial and automotive applications in the mass market.

Specifically, in the automotive industry, we are seeing the following factors driving the growth of the GNSS market:

(Some regions) Mandatory installation of telematics applications such as eCall (emergency call system).

The application of vehicle wireless communication technology (V2X) is becoming more and more extensive. Although only meter-level precision positioning is required at present, in the future, as autonomous driving becomes more and more dependent on V2X, there may be higher requirements for the accuracy of the positioning system .

With the introduction of AR (Augmented Reality) navigation systems, a variety of precision navigation systems can be built into the vehicle, allowing drivers to navigate any environment smoothly.

With the widespread use of applications such as car sharing, UBI auto insurance (premium based on usage), toll charges, parking charges, etc., the demand for real-time vehicle location is also growing.

Last but not least, the growing autonomous driving market requires precise and reliable positioning capabilities to enable vehicle location services on specific roads or lanes, as well as for other use cases such as geo-fencing, or when other sensors are present Control the vehicle in the event of a malfunction.

For example, by the end of the 2020s, the overall autonomous driving market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 25%, the number of smart mobile device users is expected to grow at a CAGR of more than 15%, and the number of navigation systems The growth rate is less than 10%.

Of course, different car manufacturers have different architectural designs. Part of the architectural design will need to encapsulate positioning capabilities into different independent functions to serve different applications. There are also some solutions that integrate related functions and package them into a converged architecture to provide external services. Nonetheless, we expect massive growth in the GNSS market over the next few years.

EEWORLD: Why does GNSS play a vital role in advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS)?

Stefania Sesia: The typical technical implementation steps of advanced driver assistance systems/autonomous driving (ADAS/AD) are as follows:

Vehicle Perception: Vehicles collect data from their surroundings.

Scene detection: The vehicle can locate itself in a specific scene, and locate other related objects in the environment and predict its motion changes.
Decision Planning: The vehicle uses path planning to decide the best driving strategy to be adopted in the short or medium term.
Decision execution (by controlling the steering wheel or engine).

u-blox interprets GNSS market opportunities: automotive, wearables and asset tracking

The localization function underlies the scene detection step and is a key enabler of the vehicle’s decision-making process. The positioning function can be implemented in different ways, especially by utilizing various on-board sensor information. However, among these sensors, only GNSS can provide absolute high-precision positioning and has complementary characteristics with vision sensors such as cameras. Therefore, in the event of failure of other sensors, GNSS can expand the operational design domain (ODD) of Level 3 autonomous driving systems as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), and/or enable Level 4, by providing the necessary positioning services. level autonomous driving systems to achieve full takeover of vehicle operations.

Therefore, we believe that GNSS plays a central role in autonomous vehicle systems.

EEWORLD: Besides ADAS, what value can GNSS bring to ordinary users?

Stefania Sesia: We are well aware that autonomous driving is not the only application area that benefits from GNSS technology. For the next few years, most vehicles will still be partially or fully driven by hand (possibly with some level of driver assistance). GNSS provides high-precision navigation for such vehicles, and in some cases AR (augmented reality) navigation. These applications require high-precision positioning (from meters to sub-meters) to determine the vehicle’s location on a geographic map (standard definition or high definition). For example, high-definition maps depict road information with a high degree of accuracy, including the location of specific lanes. As a result, absolute precision positioning capabilities can provide positioning services for the vehicle in a specific environment and provide driving directions for the driver (not only can indicate the direction of travel, but also can indicate whether the vehicle is over the line or driving in the wrong lane, thereby helping It reaches the destination smoothly along the navigation route).

As another example, GNSS can provide the necessary information for V2X applications. According to the European Telecommunications Standardization Institute (ETSI) or the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), a vehicle needs to broadcast (at least) every 100 milliseconds (at least) to surrounding vehicles or drive test equipment to broadcast its status information, including precise longitudinal and lateral positions, precise Altitude, as well as speed, acceleration, and many other information. The more accurate the location information contained in a V2X message, the more valuable it is to the vehicle (and driver), as this information can be used to create a local dynamic map (indicating the dynamic and static environment the vehicle is in).

EEWORLD: What efforts has u-blox made in the GNSS market in recent years?

Stefania Sesia: u-blox has a range of GNSS products, providing GNSS chip solutions and modules. Therefore, u-blox not only has GNSS technology, but also occupies a leading position in the market. With GNSS receivers, we can obtain positioning performance at different levels of accuracy. But increased performance also means more sophisticated technology.

First, applications such as navigation and eCall require standard or meter-level positioning accuracy. This level of accuracy requirements can be achieved by single-band GNSS receivers (eg L 1 ~ 1.5GHz band), coupled with dead reckoning capabilities, to meet positioning needs even in the case of signal blocking and sensor fusion. This type of receiver needs to use 2 to 3 GNSS systems according to the actual situation. The main navigation systems currently in use include GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou and Galileo.

Second, starting with sub-meter accuracy, multi-band receivers have emerged, such as L1 and L2 (~1.2GHz) or L5 (1.1GHz) bands and positioning calibration services. Applications such as V2X often require sub-meter positioning accuracy based on current specification requirements, advanced navigation or telematics needs.

In order to achieve decimeter-level accuracy and high precision GNSS, we not only need to use multi-band and multi-system GNSS receivers such as L1 and L2 or L1 and L5, but also the observation domain (usually RTK systems) or the state space domain (usually the PPP-RTK system) to provide accurate calibration services, and of course RTK algorithms to correct positioning. Autonomous driving L2+ and some L3-level architectures and HD navigation require decimeter-level accuracy, and we believe decimeter-level accuracy will be required for future V2X applications, especially in L2 or more autonomous driving applications, V2X information will definitely be applied to the autonomous driving decision-making system.

Our u-blox NEO-M8L series, as well as the upgraded u-blox F9 series, fully meet the needs of such applications. In addition, following the acquisition of Sapcorda, u-blox has further refined its business capabilities to provide enhanced services with decimeter-level accuracy. Since then, u-blox has become a one-stop GNSS solution provider capable of providing end-to-end support to customers.

In certain technically-architected safety systems, certain safety-critical applications (e.g. Level 3 autonomous driving) use GNSS information for geo-fencing, lateral or longitudinal control of vehicles, and they require ISO 21448 compliant functional safety and intended functionality Safety (SOTIF) regulations. This means that specific implementation methods need to be followed to make both hardware and software compatible with the relevant ISO standards, while ensuring a very low risk to system integrity. u-blox has been investing heavily in research and development in this area.

Industrial applications require not only high-precision positioning, but also lower power consumption. u-blox recently launched its 10th generation GNSS products to facilitate low power positioning use cases. The u-blox M10 is optimized for hardware and software power consumption for asset tracking and sports and wearable applications that require long-term battery operation. In ultra-low-power use cases, CloudLocate can further reduce the power consumption of the entire tracking system by calculating the location of the device in the cloud.

The dual-frequency positioning and timing module ZET-F9T can improve the GNSS timing accuracy to 5 nanoseconds, and is cost-effective. It helps reduce the complexity of 5G infrastructure timing systems.

We also apply our proven dead reckoning technology to the automated guided vehicle (AGV) market. With high-precision GNSS and dead reckoning technology, the ZED-F9R can also provide centimeter-level positioning accuracy in complex environments. The ZED-F9R also optimizes positioning services for AGV low-speed application scenarios.

EEWORLD: What is the current demand for GNSS from Tier 1 suppliers (Tier 1) and OEMs? How does u-blox meet these needs?

Stefania Sesia: The needs of Tier 1 suppliers and OEMs are varied, depending on the application areas OEMs focus on, the regions in which their vehicles are put into service and, more importantly, the architecture. Today, different OEMs define architecture very differently, and in the future will be more centralized in order to achieve greater efficiency and agile introduction of new in-vehicle software capabilities. Therefore, I think, the most important needs of customers in the market today are flexibility and adaptability.

In addition, OEMs need to ensure the availability of GNSS functions in a variety of situations and conditions, such as in rural and urban different environments, because only by ensuring availability can performance be continuously improved.

Last, but not least, as vehicle systems become more complex, we are also seeing a need from end customers to reduce integration and verification workloads.

As the level of automotive automation continues to improve, more and more advanced functions will rely on high-precision secure location services in the future. With this trend, the importance of GNSS receivers, GNSS augmentation services and positioning capabilities will continue to grow. Therefore, the u-blox GNSS solution featuring accurate global coverage, versatility and robustness is the ideal choice for customers to provide end-to-end positioning solutions.

EEWORLD: What is the main role of the GNSS product family for u-blox?

Stefania Sesia: As mentioned earlier, the u-blox product range targets a growing segment of the automotive market, offering different performance levels, sophistication and cost options.

On the one hand, we can always adapt to changing market demands by upgrading and continuously updating our product range. On the other hand, the mastery of GNSS technology allows us to respond quickly to customer needs to adapt to their specific architecture.

In addition, the automotive ecosystem is accelerating the introduction of highly sophisticated vehicles to the market. u-blox provides end-to-end positioning solutions including measurement receivers and enhanced services, reducing the time, effort and development costs customers need to verify each component and overall functionality.

EEWORLD: What is the business situation after u-blox acquires Sapcorda wholly?

Stefania Sesia: Since the acquisition of Sapcorda, we have launched our PointPerfect GNSS high-precision positioning augmentation service, which has been seamlessly integrated with our industry-leading positioning and connectivity hardware. PointPerfect uses the industry-standard SPARTN data format, combined with the lightweight and secure MQTT IoT transport protocol, to form a real-time, bandwidth-optimized, cost-effective solution that is ideal for mass market applications. A key feature of PointPerfect is that innovative delivery options are fully integrated into our easy-to-use Thingstream IoT service delivery platform, reducing complexity and making customer access more efficient, resulting in faster time to market. Following the completion of acquisitions and business integration, we plan to expand into other relevant markets.

EEWORLD: In addition to the automotive market, what other markets are currently rapidly adopting GNSS products? How do their needs differ from vehicle regulatory requirements?

Stefania Sesia: In 2019, the size of the entire GNSS market was about $170 billion and is expected to increase to $390 billion in 2027 (including all verticals).

Of course, the automotive market is not the only market driving the growth of the GNSS market, with the consumer and industrial sectors also playing a key role. The GNSS market other than automotive applications is mainly occupied by the mobile phone market. However, we want to put this part of the market aside and talk about the GNSS market outside the mobile phone application scenario. According to a recent ABI report (2021 Outdoor Wide Area Positioning Technology Report), the “sports and wearables” and “asset tracking” markets are expected to witness significant growth. By 2025, the market size of automotive GNSS chips is expected to reach around 130 million, so both “sports and wearables” (204 million) and “asset tracking” (170 million) GNSS chip markets will become larger than automotive GNSS chips. market.

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