Pursuant to a recent announcement of new PNT solutions independent of GPS/GNSS signals, provided via the Iridium constellation, GPS World talked with Jean-Yves Courtois, CEO of Orolia. Orolia has partnered with Satelles to bring new PNT products and services to the global market, with a focus on military, and defense, government and commercial customers worldwide.
“We are a manufacturer and integrator of timing equipment,” Courtois said. Orolia is the parent company of GPS/GNSS product and service providers Spectracom, McMurdo and Spectratime. “This new STL service is not fully commercialized yet, but it’s operational and it can be tested. Receivers are available and can be integrated into our equipment.
“The timing signal is very accurate and close enough to GPS for most timing applications, although the positioning accuracy is lower than what GPS users are used to. It is an augmentation for timing primarily, and secondarily for positioning.
“In terms of timing accuracy, it provides on the order of tenths of microseconds in accuracy, and this covers a lot of timing applications, very familiar to us and to our customers. This is an ideal timing backup or augmentation of GPS. As number 2 worldwide in high-precision timing, we know this market and its applications very well.”
Because the signal providing the satellite time and location (STL) service emanates from low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, its strength is much greater than GPS and other GNSS signals. Among its key characteristics: it gets good reception inside buildings and beneath other obstructions.
“The STL signal works very well,” Courtois continued. “We were surprised. Satelles is very conservative in their statements, and we got better results than they promised in our tests. They under-promised and over-delivered. It penetrates buildings well, it has unique features and it performs at a high level. So we decided to invest in it. All our engineers are excited about it!
“In positioning it’s closer to fifty meters or more. Much better for fixed objects than for mobile objects. The more mobile, the faster the vehicle, then the lower the positioning accuracy. It’s not directly usable for GPS applications that require a few meters accuracy, but it can be associated with inertial navigation for much better results.
“The signal is encrypted, so you have to subscribe to a service to receive a key, allowing access to the signal.
“Applications are developing based on equipment that will be STL-enabled. For the user it will be transparent. The user will have a different antenna.
“We are also active in tracking and emergency location devices, where this is also of interest. It has some authentication capability, to guarantee that the person who accesses the signal is in the location that he pretends to be.”
“For customers to be able to use this service, there is some integration work to be done, some dedicated STL receivers to integrate into our current hardware set up, and software modifications. Our engineers are ready, we are all ready to work with government and defense organizations and other new clients.”
“Our basic interest is to add some robustness to our equipment for our current customers, and then of course to develop new customers worldwide.”