The potential of EGNSS for the drone industry
The European Commission EGNSS4RPAS project investigated the effects of EGNSS on the future of safe and efficient drone operations. The first two trials took place at the ATLAS drone test facility. One test focused on employing an X-UAV Clouds fixed-wing drone in combination with two DJI multicopters under a number of visual line of sight (VLOS) conditions. The other test involved analysing the fixed-wing drone in both VLOS as well as beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) conditions. The third trial was undertaken in the more challenging urban environment of Villacarrillo. This involved testing a DJI S1000 multicopter drone with tasks such as building inspection or parcel delivery. Due to the fact that the national civil aviation authority AESA approved such urban testing for the very first time, a safety analysis was conducted to ensure the full safety of the local population. Overall, as part of all trials, drones relied on the PPP technology for navigation. As such, they carried specialised multi-constellation and multi-frequency antennas as well as a MagicUT – a multi-constellation and multi-frequency receiver.
The results of the investigation confirmed the added-value effects of EGNSS. The solution that makes use of Galileo only proved to be more accurate than the one that used only GPS. Moreover, when combined, Galileo and GPS ensure an even higher location accuracy. Similarly, the addition of EGNOS to GPS considerably boosts the performance of the service. Thus, European GNSS solutions have a significant potential to serve as catalysers and enablers for the developing drone market.