Navigation for Small UAVs Using Ground-based Broadcast Transmitters

Track Code: 
15KU008LX
Summary: 

The invention describes a small, light-weight, low-power, multichannel radio that receives signals from ground based commercially-licensed broadcast transmitters and analyzes these signals to estimate the receiver's position, groundspeed and heading. Other technologies providing navigation data from ground-based RF broadcasters require a local ground based reference station.

Development status: completed system-level simulation; awaiting experimental proof-of-concept

Overview: 

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are an enabling technology and will likely soon be essential for various commercial and industrial services. These systems have a significant vulnerability in that most UAVs rely on satellite-based navigation (e.g., GPS) signals for autonomous flight. The inventors at KU have designed their invention to be independent of satellite based navigation using on-board sensors that can aid the navigation system in the event of satellite based navigational signal loss.

Applications: 

UAVs for commercial, industrial, or government service.

How it works: 

A multichannel radio receives signals from ground based broadcast transmitters and analyzes these signals to estimate the receiver's position, groundspeed and heading. This is accomplished by using two receiver channels that collect radio signals from nearby transmitters, a database of transmitter parameters (frequency, power level, transmit antenna position), and a computing device for signal and data analysis. Each signal that is received from the spatially distributed regional transmitters gives an angle of arrival along with the received power signal that is used to estimate the receiver's position. The system incorporates high-performance RF integrated circuits that help in system miniaturization. The inventors plan on using an AD9361 chip in the design. The radio system can be automated to fly aboard a 50-lb. UAV and to communicate its supplemental navigation information to the on board flight director.

Benefits: 

Overcomes the limitations of satellite based navigation systems, no ground stations required for control, allows operation when GPS in unavailable.

Why it is better: 

Overcomes the limitations of satellite based navigation systems (jamming, spoofing), no ground stations required for control, allows operation when GPS in unavailable, provides accurate navigation data (for regions near populated areas) that is independent of GPS systems.

Performance Specs: GPS accuracy in X and Y (goal) [simulations validate]

Licensing Associate: 
Michael Patterson, JD · m.patterson@ku.edu · 785-864-6397
Category(s): 
Keyword(s): 
Inventor(s): 
Christopher Allen
Shawn Keshmiri
Masud al Aziz
Status: 
Patent-Pending