Satellite navigation for drones explored in white paper

Information from GSA

The European GNSS Agency (GSA) has published a white paper on the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems (EGNSS) for Drones Operations, which considers GNSS as essential for the safe and reliable navigation of drones.

GNSS receivers are implemented on almost all new commercial drones as standard. According to the white paper, Galileo (Europe’s global navigation satellite system) is already present in more than 30% of the receivers used for drone applications, and many of them also implement European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) corrections to increase accuracy. EGNOS corrections offer improved robustness over Europe and higher navigational safety as well as improved accuracy, which is relevant in the vertical axis for drone operations.

With increasing demand for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations, GNSS with augmentations is an obvious technology choice for navigation, although it is not the only one.

By adding Galileo satellites to GPS drones can use signals from more satellites for positioning, which improves their accuracy and increases the availability of received signals. This is particularly important in urban canyons. Galileo also offers distinct features that benefit drone operations, such as more robust protection against interferences.

The paper provides an overview of the added value of EGNOS and Galileo for current and emerging operations, as well as for future U-Space services. It also provides a market perspective of GNSS for drones, with a summary of applications powered by EGNSS and the results of testing campaigns that show the benefits of EGNSS compared to GPS for different operations.

The paper is aimed at drone manufacturers and operators, but also entrepreneurs planning to offer new services with unmanned platforms. The document can also serve as a basis to choose navigation solutions based on EGNOS/Galileo that will increase the robustness of operations due to increased navigation performance.

The document is intended to be updated and its authors welcome contributions from operators and users who would like to share their experience of using EGNOS and Galileo.


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