Cambridge startup and European tech giant solve GPS weakness
A Cambridge UK-Swiss alliance is set to transform GPS delivery through new and advanced technology.
u-blox, a global provider of leading positioning and wireless communication technologies, and Focal Point Positioning in Cambridge are integrating technology that will improve the accuracy and reliability of GNSS devices.
The move will enhance positioning performance and security for growing applications such as smart cities, location-secure IoT and health and fitness wearables.
The patented Supercorrelation technology solves a critical weakness in GNSS caused by multipath interference. This occurs when satellite signals bounce off buildings and landmarks, causing GNSS receivers to provide degraded positioning outputs.
The result for users is that the blue dot on their phone or device may be in the wrong place, moving in the wrong direction, or may have a large error ellipse.
For autonomous vehicles it could lead to positioning errors that place the vehicle in the wrong lane or worse. Supercorrelation also helps with the detection and rejection of GNSS spoofing signals – an increasing concern for autonomous vehicles, ships, and aviation.
Focal Point Positioning CEO Dr Ramsey Faragher said: “We are tremendously excited to be working alongside a market leader such as u-blox. Our mission is to improve every positioning system on the planet and this deal has afforded us a giant step towards our goal.
“Positioning systems are so critical to our world, and we look forward to seeing the next generation of products and services that will be enabled by this higher level of accuracy, reliability and security.”
u-blox CEO Thomas Seiler added: “The addition of Supercorrelation technology into our latest GNSS platforms is part of our continuing focus on low power consumption, higher accuracy and security for automotive, industrial, and wearable GNSS applications.”
FocalPoint was founded in 2015 by Dr Farrager – a Cambridge don – and its team includes alumni of the UK aerospace industry, The European Space Agency, and university stars Cambridge, Oxford, UCL and Imperial College. Investors include: Passion Capital, IQ Capital, Cambridge Angels, Rockspring Nominees, Cambridge Innovation Capital and Demis Hassabis – CEO and co-founder of DeepMind.
Its technologies have been honoured by the UK’s Royal Institute of Navigation and the US Institute of Navigation. The business was also named Europe’s Hottest SpaceTech Start-up at the 2020 Europa Awards.
u-blox is a global technology leader in positioning and wireless communication in automotive, industrial, and consumer markets. Its solutions, services and products let people, vehicles, and machines determine their precise position and communicate wirelessly over cellular and short range networks.
With headquarters in Thalwil, Switzerland, the company is globally present with offices in Europe, Asia, and the US.
GNSS stands for Global Navigation Satellite System – a blanket term to describe systems that include GPS; developed and launched by the US military in the 1980s, GPS became fully operational in 1993.
Other nations have launched similar systems including Russia’s GLONASS, China’s BeiDou and Europe’s Galileo; GNSS technology touches almost every part of today’s interconnected world and economy.
A 2017 US government study estimated that the loss of GPS service would average a $1 billion per-day impact to the nation.
• PHOTOGRAPH: Dr Ramsey Faragher at Queens’ College, Cambridge. Picture, courtesy Queens’ College.