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Drones2GNSS takes this year’s GSA Special Prize

The 2016 edition of the ESNC again received a remarkable number of entries. Drone2GNSS’s winning idea was competing against a total of 413 entries from 40 different countries, with 150 from start-up companies and 124 entries coming from individuals. In terms of topics, the majority of entries were submitted under the Mobile Location Based Services (LBS) category, followed by Smart Moving and Safety & Security.

The annual event recognises the most outstanding applications for Copernicus and European GNSS (Galileo and EGNOS) in various categories. Since 2014, the awards ceremony has been associated with the Satellite Masters Conference, taking place this year from 25 – 27 October. The conference features plenary sessions, workshops and roundtable discussions centred on leveraging satellite-derived data and other space solutions for business and society. It is a unique marketplace for sharing ideas on space-based innovation and connecting with the world’s leading network for downstream satellite business.

This year’s winning project, Drones2GNSS, combines two of today’s hottest topics in global navigation satellite systems (GNSS): Galileo and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The project proposes an innovative approach to addressing a timeless problem of surveying engineers: positioning accuracy in urban canyons and vegetated areas.

“Although Galileo Initial Services are expected to enhance the accuracy of existing solutions, Drones2GNSS proposes an off-the shelf application that uses European GNSS (i.e., GalileoEGNOS) as the primary means of positioning,” says project partner Space Geomatica’s Achilles Tripolitsiotis. “As GNSS signals are degraded in obstructed environments by skyscrapers, vegetation and geomorphology, our project proposes using drones as intermediate carriers of high precision GNSS signals that can then transfer the geolocation accuracy to the ground.” 

To accomplish this, Drones2GNSS relies heavily on multi-constellation GNSS signals – which is where Galileo will make the difference. “As current constellations like GPS and GLONASS have proven inefficient in confronting the aforementioned surveying problem, the sector continues to rely on traditional surveying techniques,” says Tripolitsiotis. “However, with the launch of the Galileo era and the utilisation of the Drones2GNSS approach, we can now provide surveying engineers a cost effective, accurate and fast positioning solution.” 

source: GSA website