Smart localization systems

GNSS Evolution

The first satellite-based positioning system appeared 1960. However, it was first in 1990 the Global Positioning System (GPS) became available to the civilian market. Around 2000 the selected availability was dropped, boosting the localization accuracy of the GPS for the civilian market. This turned the GPS-technology into a game changer for navigation systems in private cars and boats. Later, around 2010, positioning was introduced to the mass market when GPS was integrated in smartphones to provide location-based services and navigation assistance. Today, 2020, GPS is working in parallel with other Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS's), and multi-receiver chipsets are integrated to not only smartphones, but also in a variety of gadgets and IoT products. And the GNSS market increases exponentially and is predicted to continue to increase at the same rate for the next decade.

GNSS Weaknesses

So is the problem of providing globally available location solutions solved? Or will it be solved by next generation GNSS? Not really, there is still no autonomous system that relies solely on GNSS based localization. GNSS based localization is a “nice to have” capability, and sufficient for outdoor location-based services and navigation assistance applications, but it is not alone useful for safety critical applications and autonomous systems. Nor is the next generation GNSS, due to the fundamental limitations of radio based localization, expected to provide a “solve it all” localization technology.  

What is lacking is a localization technology with high security (not possible to jam or spoof), high integrity (reliable location with guaranteed performance bounds), high availability (e.g. for indoor, urban, underground, or underwater applications) and with the same accuracy and scalability as the GNSS technology.  Unfortunately, as far as we can see, the future holds no single game changing technology that alone solves the localization problem.

Our vision

What we foresee is that the rapid development of autonomy in cars and the IoT area will force a technology leap in the development of localization solutions adapted to various operation conditions and environments. Instrumental to this technology leap will be the trinity of new and improved sensor technologies, new theories and methods for sensor fusion, and new active sensing strategies tightly integrated into the control and decision process of the system. Likely each domain (application) will develop their own sensor combination, sensor fusion algorithm, and active sensing strategy to solve the task, and there is a need for a coherent theory development for how such localization systems can be designed. At 2030, we foresee scalable localization solutions that can provide accurate and reliable “anywhere and anytime” localization for autonomous and intelligent systems, such as road vehicles, trains, ships, aircraft, mine equipment, IoT devices, and warehouse trucks to mention a few domains where there is an urgent need already today.