Navigation Sensor Switching in Hostile Environments - New Project

15 September 2021

On September 1st 2021 Telespazio Belgium has successfully kicked off the Navigation Sensor Switching in Hostile Environments (NAV-SSHE) project with the European Space Agency. NAV-SSHE is funded under the NAVISP Element 2 programme and supported by the Belgian Space Office.

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NAV-SSHE aims at designing, prototyping and demonstrating new solutions for PNT using 5G and GNSS in combination for critical applications, in hostile environments. Safety-critical applications for their nature involve human lives; consequently, they must have a high level of reliability and availability as well as be resilient to external factors. The project targets this second aspect: it proposes a solution that allows hybrid navigation using GNSS and 5G, and provides an enhanced level of robustness to external attacks on the 5G and GNSS signals.

The use of dual sensors improves dramatically the navigation performances. 5G and GNSS are two systems that are very complementary from the navigation point of view: GNSS provides a global coverage and provides the highest performances in rural environments; on the other hand, GNSS performances degrade in urban environments, where 5G has an increasingly level of coverage and provides already good navigation performances. The complementarity of the two solutions makes hybrid navigation already a great candidate for autonomous applications. However, when it comes to safety-critical applications, hybridisation is not sufficient. That’s why NAV-SSHE is developing a concept for protecting the navigation signals even before the hybridisation, by performing interference detection on the two signals and mitigating it by either switching to the best performing sensor (GNSS or 5G) and trying to remove the interference from the signal.

The prototype aims at demonstrating the feasibility of the concept and its adequacy for some safety-critical applications that have been identified as of interest for the Belgian economy, namely port operations for autonomous docking and airports for autonomous mowing. Both applications are deployed in environments where 5G is planned to be deployed and used for communications.

Our role in the NAV-SSHE project ?

The project sees Telespazio Belgium as the leader of a consortium with M3Systems Belgium as partner and hybridisation expert. The consortium brings several years of experience in the navigation domain, digital signal processing and provision of downstream applications in the field of GNSS. Proximus Belgium will provide an in-kind support to the project for what concerns the use and access to the 5G infrastructure. Their most valuable contribution and interest in the activity is a fundamental boost for its success.

As far as the demonstration is concerned, the project plans to develop a working prototype to be demonstrated in real field. Telespazio Belgium as identified the Port of Antwerp or the Airport of Charleroi as potential demonstration sites.

The project has a strong orientation towards stakeholders: our aim is to develop a prototype that will be useful and ready for the market, helping to make autonomous navigation trustable and safer anywhere. For this reason, Telespazio Belgium plans to interact and interview stakeholders to get their point of view and collect their needs as launchpad for the activity.


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