Space technology allows precise navigation without GNSS

December 05, 2018 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
The German Aerospace research center DLR developed an optical navigation and inspection system for use in environments where position determination is not possible via a satellite navigation system such as GPS or Galileo. The Integrated Positioning System (IPS) can accurately determine one's own position without additional "prior knowledge" of the environment and without external reference points. Originally developed for missions in outer space, the scientists also see possible applications in tunnels, mines or industrial facilities, for example.

DLR's IPS technology is based on a multi-sensor approach: Multiple diffgerent measurement techniques are linked in such a way that the errors of the other system can be minimised and measurement errors significantly reduced. This approach enables high accuracy without the need for navigation satellite signals. In addition, the Integrated Positioning System IPS is designed for reliable operation even without an external positioning infrastructure such as WIFI.

"The system can be used, for example, to inspect industrial plants or mines, but also to support autonomous driving," explains project manager Anko Börner from the DLR Institute for Optical Sensor Systems. In the future, such sensor systems will play a decisive role in research missions to foreign planets or in safety-relevant applications on Earth. "They are, so to speak, the technical eye and provide comprehensive and valuable data," says Börner. "Just as the eye is the most important sensory organ for humans, optical systems are the primary sensor for detecting the surroundings of technical devices.

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