The newelectronics magazine has recently published an interview with Prof. Izzet Kale from the Applied DSP and VLSI Research Group  (ADVRG) on current and future studies on Galileo, Europe's Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS).

Europe is working hard on setting a constellation for GNSS and on their current agenda they have testing and monitoring the first signals transmitted from the two In-Orbit Validation (IOV) satellites launched late last year; readying the launch of six more satellites; and, perhaps somewhat incongruously for a huge and strategic project well into its second decade, a marketing push.

The article acclaims the UK's iNsight (Innovative Navigation using new GNSS Signals with Hybridised Technologies) programme, where ADVRG is the partner responsible for the electronics part. The project has a budget of £4.75million, including £2.75m from the EPSRC. The four year project, which is nearing completion, links Imperial College, UCL and Nottingham and Westminster universities with industrial partners such as STMicroelectronics, EADS Atrium, Leica Geosystems, Nottingham Scientific, QinetiQ and Thales Research and Technology.

The article reports on the contribution of University of Westminster’s team to the iNsight Programme where ADVRG looked at tracking channel structures and receiver architectures. In his interview Prof Kale says "We have developed a discovery enabling receiver platform that will allow experimenters to investigate different approaches and to do this very quickly.It will reduce complexity for multichannel receiver designers significantly and provide an infrastructure for people to try new ideas without reinventing the world. For instance, designers can acquire GNSS signals simultaneously, maybe receive Wi-Fi as well. The digitally configurable some would describe it as 'software defined', although I do not like the term platform will convert all the different constellations' frequencies and handle any complex numerical processing tasks in the digital domain."

“The key”, Prof Kale added, “is two separate RF channels synchronised with a single master atomic clock and two antennas. The dual multifrequency RF front ends connect to a high speed dual channel Analogue-to-Digital Converter (ADC) that digitises and down-converts each incoming RF signal into an IF signal. The last part of the project is to integrate all this into low power, configurable FPGA cores.”

ST Microelectronics' role in the iNsight project is 'to review and monitor progress', according to Dr Philip Mattos, the chip maker's chief GNSS engineer, who added the company is very impressed with the results and is likely to use the group's design tool for next generation GNSS architectures.

Access the full article can be accessed online here.

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