26 Jun 2017

8 billion GNSS devices in use by 2020

In recent years the reliance on satellite based navigation systems such as GPS has grown at a rapid rate.

Location based services and intelligent transport services have driven a tremendous growth in the usage of GNSS. As a result it is estimated that over 8 billion devices will be GNSS enabled by 2020.

SatNavs are now fitted in a large proportion of new automobiles and with the growth of the Internet of Things there is a growing need for geolocation of sensors for applications like tracking of assets. This is not to mention the fact that smartphones virtually always include a GNSS capability.

GNSS global navigation satellite system and includes GPS launched 25 years ago, but it is only one constellation. Many more are now coming on line: Galileo (Europe), Glonass (Russia), Beidou (China), IRNSS (India) and QZSS (Japan).

In many products there is a significant trend to move towards the use of multiple constellations to provide increased robustness of signal reception and the ability to accommodate the requirement from some countries to use a particular system. As a result GNSS receivers are moving towards the use of two or may be even three constellations.

Using GNSS systems it is necessary to be able to read the signals from four satellites to get a position, velocity and time, by tracing multiple constellations there is a much better chance to receiver satellites. In cities for example, tall buildings often shade the satellite signals and if only one constellation can be received, then the positioning capability is significantly impaired.

With more constellations available, there are significant benefits to having receivers that are able to utilise more than one constellation at a time. However there are cost implications for this as further RF channels are needed.

One company called M3 Systems has been involved with Galileo development and has a lot of experience in this sector.

Says Jean-Francois Pouilly, Business Development Manager at M3 Systems: “With the European GNSS Agency, GSA stating that there will be 8 billion GNSS devices in operation by 2020, there are a lot of business opportunities for developing and selling receiver software applications, services and test solutions.”

There are many companies globally, developing a host of applications, services and hardware for to meet the demand.

Currently smartphones are pushing the demand, but for the future the huge number of connected objects linked to the Internet of Things will forge even greater number of GNSS devices.

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