Nottingham Geospatial Institute

Positioning and Navigation Technologies 

The core of Institute research activity in this area has traditionally focused around satellite navigation and positioning systems. More recently, this has expanded with R&D into ubiquitous positioning and navigation technologies using: different grades of inertial sensors; signals of opportunity, for example pseudolites, GSM/GPRS, Wi-Fi, DAB, DTV, IMES; and computer vision systems.



Research themes

Current research ranges from fundamental science to wider engineering and environmental applications, with an ever increasing diversity, from network-based GNSS RTK, Precise Point Positioning, software receiver engineering, and mobile phone applications, to imagery and communications based positioning and navigation.  

Current application areas of interest:

  • Intelligent transport systems and services - autonomous driving
  • Location-based services
  • Precision agriculture
  • Applications development to support priority areas of aerospace, transport, food security
Multi-constellation GNSS augmented with signals from GBAS and SBAS will significantly improve positioning and navigation technology performance. Issues with hybrid systems for applications in priority areas such as integrity, system vulnerability, and so on, will be addressed. With increased concerns on the negative impact of transport on air quality, efficiency and travellers’ safety, future research will include positioning and navigation of autonomous cars, implementation of vehicle to vehicle (V2V) and vehicle to infrastructure (V2I), and the development of relevant standards and specifications. Joint studies with stakeholders will be emphasised. Application of Network RTK GNSS and PPP-RTK for agricultural machine control will play an important role in food security. Theme members will work closely with relevant disciplines, to conduct precision agriculture studies.
  • Emerging positioning and navigation technologies

Network RTK and PPP-RTK are state of the art technologies that provide centimetre level accuracy, with many challenging issues still to be resolved. NGI has been working on these areas for some time, with the aim of improving and extending the use of these high accuracy technologies for wide application in the engineering and environmental disciplines.

For NRTK, NGI has carried out substantial research into quality control. NRTK communication difficulties have been criticised as the bottleneck of NRTK implementation by field users - so we have teamed up with major industrial leaders to tackle this issue. Multi- and hybrid-communication schemes (such as mobile networks, satellite communications, DAB/DSM and Wi-Fi) are some of the solutions that we are working on, which could largely improve NRTK service coverage and mobility. NGI has established its own CORS network to support its NRTK study, comprising seven reference stations, and we also have direct access to the UK national CORS network, OSNet. NGI has been awarded funding for the NRTK receiver benchmark study by UK national survey authority, the Ordnance Survey of Great Britain.

For PPP, we are working on resolving the PPP Integer ambiguity and to shorten the PPP convergence time. Future work will focus on the drawbacks of both NRTK and PPP and carry out R&D of the PPP-RTK platform and assess its performance in demanding applications.

  • Integrated sensors and advanced software platforms
The integration of position, attitude and remote measurement sensors remains an important research area underpinning a wide variety of applications, such as pedestrian and animal navigation, vehicle tracking, machine control, photogrammetric aerial triangulation and direct geo-referencing, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). 

There is a need to incorporate a positioning capability into low-cost mass market devices; the challenge is to understand how people in different situations respond or relate to positional cues. Our research aims to understand how to communicate complex spatial information effectively through small mobile devices. 

To enable these above capacities, research and development of in-house software platform through adoption of the latest data fusion algorithms is essential. Overall the years, NGI has developed comprehensive software tools that ranges from GNSS signal simulation, integrated processing of the date streams from different sensor systems and orbital determination.
  • New GNSS constellations and signals
Current satellite navigation systems are evolving - modernised GPS and GLONASS will make new signals available, with further utility coming from the expected deployment of Galileo and Compass systems. These new signals will revolutionise the use of GNSS over the next decade, in terms of accessibility, integrity and accuracy. From 2000, NGI has been involved in high profile FP6 and FP7 projects with its European and Chinese partners. To support these activities, NGI is developing software receiver capacity to acquire the full range of available GNSS signals. We also own a sophisticated GNSS simulator, a dedicated road survey vehicle and a unique testing track. We conduct fundamental and innovative research to provide key enabling technologies.
  • Ubiquitous positioning and autonomous systems

GNSS is not the solution to all our positioning requirements and is of no use without a view of the sky. With the development of technologies such as mobile phones, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, there has been increasing interest in terrestrial based radio-positioning systems.  We are already working with Ultra-Wide-Band (UWB) systems, RFID and GNSS pseudolites and intend to integrate them with low-cost MEMS inertial sensors and single frequency GNSS receivers, for mass market applications.

The ultimate goal is to integrate these technologies to provide a seamless and ubiquitous positioning capability. This will truly change the way we view location and it is possible to imagine a situation when we will have positioning for everyone and everything, everywhere and all the time.

The Institute is involved with research and development into low-cost high-precision GNSS receivers and commercialisation of autonomous systems, which will be critical components of the increasing automation of vehicles, enhancing the safety and efficiency of transportation generally.



  • Automotive applications of high precision and robust GNSS, PhD studentship sponsored by EPSRC and MIRA Ltd., 2010-; project team: Xiaolin Meng, Terry Moore, Anthony Baxendale (MIRA) and Scott Stephenson.  
  • Integrating Multi-constellation GNSS and Terrestrial Positioning Technologies for Autonomous Machine Control Applications, PhD studentship sponsored by EPSRC and Hexagon Geosystems, 2010 -; project team: Xiaolin Meng, Yiqun Zhu, Alan Dodson, Karl Soar (Hexagon) and Qizhi (Jessica) Shi.
  • Integration of GNSS and GIS for Intelligent Identification and Detection of Road Incident Hotspots, self-funded PhD, 2008-; project team: Xiaolin Meng, Anand Suchith and Lei Yang.
  • Low-cost high precision GPS receiver for intelligent ITSS and LBS applications, Innovation Fellowship, 2011-2012; project team: Xiaolin Meng, Yang Gao.
  • New Indoor Positioning Techniques for Oestrus Detection, Global Food Security Projects sponsored by the University of Nottingham, 2011-; project team: Xiaolin Meng, Phil Garnsworthy, Bob Webb, Alan Dodson and Jon Huxley.
  • Development of a software GNSS receiver for automotive applications, PhD studentship sponsored by Race Technology Ltd; project team: Terry Moore, Chris Hill and David Luff.
  • Development of prototype low-cost GPS receivers for high precision real-time applications, joint sponsorship of HEFCE and Ministry of Science and Technology of China; project team: Xiaolin Meng, Chuang Shi and Pengfei Cheng.
  • Extending the application / improving the efficiency of positioning, sponsored by EPSRC; project team: Terry Moore and Chris Hill.
  • Extending the applications of GNSS, PhD studentship sponsored by EPSRC; project team: Terry Moore, Chris Hill and Zeynep Elmas.
  • GNSS simulation and testing tools - The test case, sponsored by European GNSS Supervisory Authority; project team: Terry Moore and Chris Hill.
  • GNSS Jamming - Identification and mitigation, PhD studentship sponsored by EPSRC; project team: Terry Moore, Chris Hill and Duncan Palmer.
  • Integration of low-cost GPS and IMU, PhD studentship funded by EPSRC; project team: Terry Moore, Chris Hill and Abdul Khairi.
  • Network–based Real-time Kinematic GNSS Positioning and Quality Control, PhD studentship sponsored by EPSRC and Leica (UK) Geosystems; project team: Xiaolin Meng, Terry Moore, Chris Hill, Mark Burbidge (Leica) and Jose Aponte.
  • Rapid Integer Ambiguity Resolution in GPS Precise Point Positioning, PhD studentship sponsored by the University of Nottingham and Beacon Energy; project team: Xiaolin Meng, Alan Dodson, Norman Teferle and Geng Jianghui.

Nottingham Geospatial Institute

Nottingham Geospatial Building
The University of Nottingham
Triumph Road
Nottingham, NG7 2TU

telephone:+44 (0)115 95 13880
fax:+44(0) 115 95 13881
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