Field Tests for 5G
Field Tests for 5G (5th Generation) positioning service introduction in Europe
In September 2019, a pair of testbed vehicles went out on the road in Germany to simulate the way we are all likely to be using 5G positioning services in the future. The field test focused on assessing the performance of highly-precise ‘hybrid' satellite/terrestrial positioning for autonomous vehicles, drones, smart cities and IoT (Internet of Things). 1)
Figure 1: This pair of testbed vehicles went out on the road in Germany to simulate the way we are all likely to be using 5G positioning services in the future (image credit: DLR/GMV)
The two vehicles were driven for a week around Munich and the surrounding area in a variety of environments, from the open sky terrain surrounding the German Aerospace Center DLR's site in Oberpfaffenhofen to the deep urban canyons of the city's dense Maxvorstadt district.
As they drove they combined a broad range of on-board systems – including multi-constellation satellite navigation (combining Europe's Galileo, the US GPS (Global Positioning System), the Russian Glonass and the Chinese BeiDou systems), incorporating localized high-accuracy correction, and Long-Term Evolution 4G and UWB (Ultra-Wide Band) terrestrial wireless broadband communication – to measure their positions and share them with one another, performing ongoing vehicle-to-vehicle ranging to simulate future 5G operating standards.
Figure 2: Space's part in the 5G revolution. Everybody is talking about 5G, the new generation of wireless communication. We are at the start of a revolution in connectivity for everything, everywhere, at all times. So what has space got to do with it? Why do we need satellites to ensure businesses and citizens can benefit smoothly from 5G? (video credit: ESA, Published on 6 March 2019)
The coming of the next generation of mobile phone networks, called 5G, promises much faster, more stable connectivity based on higher bandwidths and frequencies – but the ability to download a full movie in a matter of seconds is only the start. These increased capabilities will also open up a new range of services, many of them based around localization.
From smart traffic management to asset tracking to personalized drone-based delivery, our receivers' ability to know where they are and share those positions with the wider network will be vital.
Figure 3: Antennas on vehicle roof. Close-up view of Car A with GNSS and LTE (Long-Term Evolution) antennas (image credit: DLR/GMV)
"The first step required is understanding what the upcoming disruptive applications are, and to identify the potential requirements associated with them." says Riccardo de Gaudenzi, heading ESA's Electrical Department in its Directorate of Technology, Engineering and Quality.
"For these use cases, positioning and timing are key elements. Therefore Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) aspects, provided via Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) like Galileo, the terrestrial communication infrastructure and hybridization of technologies, are extremely important."
Today we rely largely on satellite navigation to determine where we are. But our smartphones quietly blend satnav with other data sources to sharpen the accuracy of their results. That is why, for example, when you turn off your phone's WiFi receiver your smartphone will warn you its mapping will become less accurate – because it is also using WiFi maps as a reference source.
Figure 4: GNSS equipment aboard vehicles. The testbed vehicles combined a broad range of on-board systems – including multi-constellation satellite navigation (combining Europe's Galileo, the US GPS, Russian Glonass and Chinese Beidou), incorporating localized high-accuracy correction (image credit: DLR/GMV)
With 5G this trend of ‘hybrid positioning' will accelerate. Multiple GNSS constellation will be employed together to increase accuracy, along with localized correction systems. In addition the 5G cell network will provide additional corrections to enhance the GNSS localization accuracy and to complement GNSS when satellites are not visible. This 5G ‘New Radio' positioning accuracy will be enhanced by using steerable antennas on both the base station and the user terminal.
And because positioning performance will have to remain at the same high standard as user receivers move around – whether they be people, cars, shared bikes or drones – additional positioning solutions will also be employed, such as inertial sensors or device-to-device relative positioning.
Miguel Manteiga Bautista, Head of ESA's GNSS Evolution and Strategy Division in the Agency's Directorate of Navigation explains: "For the hybrid positioning field-tests, ESA and its partners set up a collaboration with Deutsche Telecom for use of its 4G network in Munich including relevant information for positioning, and NovAtel, who provided state-of-the-art GNSS equipment and correction services, such as the satellite-based TerraStar-X."
Figure 5: Testbed vehicle equipment. The testbed vehicles combined a broad range of on-board systems – including multi-constellation satellite navigation (combining Europe's Galileo, the US GPS, Russian Glonass and Chinese Beidou), incorporating localized high-accuracy correction, and Long-Term Evolution 4G and Ultra-Wide Band terrestrial wireless broadband communication – to measure their positions and share them with one another, performing ongoing vehicle-to-vehicle ranging to simulate future 5G operating standards (image credit: DLR/GMV)
5G GNSS Task Force
ESA oversaw this initial field test campaign as part of its 5G GNSS Task Force, coordinated with the European Commission and the European GNSS Agency, through the Horizon 2020 Framework Program for Research and Innovation in Satellite Navigation. It was undertaken by DLR and the GMV company, with contributions by engineers from NovAtel, u-blox and Deutsche Telekom as well as ESA.
In 2016 ESA's European GNSS Evolution Program took the initiative to shape the support of high-accuracy positioning services in 4G and 5G networks, to contribute to the 3rd Generation Partnership Project, 3GPP, worldwide standardization effort.
Figure 6: 3GPP standardization. Areas where ESA is contributing to 3GPP standardization efforts (image credit: ESA)
The next phase of this project, called GNSS Integration into 5G wireless networks or GINTO5G, involves thorough processing of all the data gathered during the field test campaign, leading into additional field experiments.
1) "ESA leads drive into our 5G positioning future," ESA Navigation, 01 October 2019, URL: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Navigation