A GPS Look-Alike to Compensate for Poor Indoor, Urban Availability
Editor’s Note: This article reproduces the acceptance speeches given by the winners of GPS World’s 2012 Leadership Awards, at the Leadership Dinner in Nashville in September. The Leadership Dinner was sponsored by Lockheed Martin and Deimos Space.
Remarks by Waldemar Kunysz
Senior Staff Engineer, winner in the Services category. He works on Wide-Area Positioning System (WAPS) design and implementation in the continental United States. He spent the previous 16 years with NovAtel, Inc., working on various research projects and novel antenna designs.
I am much honored to receive this award and recognition. It means a lot to me.
I would like to thank the people who made a difference in my career. Without them it would not be possible for me to be here.
First I am grateful to Dr. Maurice Meyer, former MIT professor. He taught me the black magic of antenna engineering. I am quite sure that his spirit guided me when I invented the GPS/GNSS Pinwheel antenna when working at NovAtel, for which I received six patents.
I also would like to thank Prof. Gerard Lachapelle and Dr. AJ Van Dierendock for teaching me GPS technology and Dr. Phillip Ward for providing very useful insight on the subject of interference. That knowledge saved me countless hours when troubleshooting some system-level issues while designing current and past GPS/GNSS products.
Currently I am working at NextNav LLC, developing technologies related to NextNav’s new terrestrial based Wide Area Positioning System (WAPS). Founded in 2008 and based in Sunnyvale, California, NextNav has designed a new positioning system that is being initially deployed across the United States, although we anticipate taking our technology to global markets in the future. In its short life, in addition to developing the technology necessary for a timing-based, high-accuracy terrestrial positioning system, NextNav has already established a network presence in 40 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas. This system allows the reception of a GPS-like signal in the areas where satellite coverage is weak or non-existent, such as indoors or in dense urban developments, that is, downtowns, urban canyons, and so on. We already have completed a fully-deployed service capability in the San Francisco Bay area that enables consistently accurate indoor and outdoor positioning anywhere from San Francisco to San Jose, and we are growing our network footprint across the United States. We are also very excited to have developed a height system that has demonstrated consistent floor-level accuracy, a feature that is particularly valuable indoors.
As we know, all major terrestrial systems, such as Loran, Omega and Decca, have been shut down in the past several years. We have become very dependent on satellite-based services such as GPS and GLONASS without any terrestrially-based back-up. Any major solar storm in the future could be very disruptive to this service, so having a terrestrial-based system that is in sync with the satellite-based system will fill that void. And of course, a terrestrial system can be maintained and improved on a significantly shorter schedule, with significantly lower cost, than a space-based system. NextNav really provides an excellent complement to GPS.
The future looks very bright for the positioning service industry. In my opinion, by 2020 it will become another ubiquitously-available utility such as phone or power. I’d like to agree with my other awardee and predict that in 2020 we will be able to have a carrier-based positioning accuracy anywhere and anytime, available from any devices including handheld units. You will know where all your assets are and you won’t need to post a question to your wife: “Honey, did you see where my tie is?” Your personal digital assistant will locate it for you.