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Xiao Liu defends his thesis on high-precision instantaneous GNSS positioning

Xiao Liu defended his thesis co-supervised by Jaume Sanz Subirana and Adria Rovira Garcia on November 10th 2022 at Campus Nord. Entitled "Contributions to High Accuracy Snapshot GNSS Positioning", the thesis presents a novel method for high accuracy GNSS positioning using only a very short interval of the GNSS satellite signal.
Xiao Liu defends his thesis on high-precision instantaneous GNSS positioning
General Architecture of Cloud-Based Snapshot RTK Positioning

Snapshot positioning is the technique to determine the position of a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receiver using only a very brief interval of the received satellite signal. In recent years, this technique has received a great amount of attention thanks to its unique advantages in power efficiency, Time To First Fix (TTFF) and economic costs for deployment. However, the state of the art algorithms regarding snapshot positioning were based on code measurements only, which unavoidably limited the positioning accuracy to meter level. The present PhD research aims at achieving high-accuracy (centimetre level) snapshot positioning by properly utilizing carrier phase measurements. Two technical challenges should be tackled before such level of accuracy can be achieved, namely, satellite transmission time inaccuracy and the so-called Data Bit Ambiguity (DBA) issue.

The first challenge is essentially originated from the lack of absolute timing accuracy in the receiver, as only the coarse time information is available from an external assistance module and its error can be up to a few seconds. Applying a conventional Coarse Time Filter (CTF) can increase this timing accuracy to millisecond level. However, this is still not enough for carrier-phase based positioning since the satellite position errors introduced by such timing errors range up to one meter, which certainly impedes the carrier phase Integer Ambiguity Resolution (IAR). A method is proposed to set a global time tag and correspondingly construct the pseudoranges with full period corrections.

The second challenge is caused by the fact that snapshot measurements are generated based on the results of the correlation between the received signal and the local replicas. Multiple replicas are typically produced in snapshot positioning following the Multi Hypothesis (MH) acquisition architecture. It may happen that more than one local replica (i.e. hypothesis) result in the maximum correlation energy. Hence, we need to identify the actual secondary codes or data bit symbols encoded in the received signal, i.e. to resolve the DBA. Particularly, when the local replica is generated with exactly opposite symbols to the actual ones, the resulting carrier phase measurement contains a Half Cycle Error (HCE) and impedes also the IAR step. A method has been proposed in this PhD to resolve the DBA issue for pilot signals with encoded secondary codes. This method attempts to form a consensus among all satellites regarding their secondary codes under the assistance of their flight time differences. A different approach has been developed for data signals. It amends the carrier phase HCEs one after another by an iterative satellite inclusion procedure. This approach uses the Real Time Kinematics (RTK) LAMBDA Ratio Factor (LRF) as an indicator to evaluate the potential existence of the HCEs.

The present PhD focuses on implementing the so-called Snapshot RTK (SRTK) technique. As in the classic RTK technique, SRTK cancels most of the measurement errors through the Double-Differenced (DD) process. The workflow details of SRTK are explained incorporating the aforementioned new algorithms. Several experiments were performed based on real world signal recordings and the results confirm the feasibility of obtaining SRTK fix solutions. The performance of SRTK is numerically demonstrated under different parameters of signal bandwidth, integration time and baseline distance. The SRTK fix rates can reach more than 90% in most of the scenarios, with centimetre-level positioning errors observed in the fixed solutions.

It can be concluded that upon the implementation of the global time tag method, high accuracy snapshot positioning becomes feasible with the SRTK technique and its performance varies depending on the SRTK configuration. The algorithms developed for the DBA issue and carrier phase HCEs also prove to effectively improve the performance of SRTK.

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