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Connected vehicles present new test challenges for GNSS receiver developers


Blog - Connected vehicles present new test challenges for GNSS receiver developers

Connected vehicles rely on a complex mix of RF technologies – meaning GNSS receiver developers will need to adopt new test methods to serve this growing market.

Operator assistance technology has already transformed the aviation and maritime industries. With connected vehicles, the same technologies could drastically alter our roads, their associated infrastructure, and the way drivers (and their vehicles) navigate them.

Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) technology represents an essential aspect of the connected vehicles By enabling connected vehicles to use an array of radio-frequency communication methods, to communicate with other vehicles (V2V), with the infrastructure (V2I) and with other parties around them. The exchange of data allows connected vehicles to provide alerts and assistance to help drivers navigate, drive more efficiently and avoid potentially dangerous situations.

However, connected vehicles simply can’t offer these benefits without accurate positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) data. So they rely on GNSS receivers, and the fusion between them and other sensors, to ensure they perform as expected.

But for receiver developers, systems integrators and OEMs alike, testing these receivers, both alone and in concert with other PNT systems, brings new challenges.

The challenges of connecting vehicles and infrastructure

Across Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) systems, a similar set of challenges emerges:

  • How do you ensure interoperability between a diverse ecosystem of communication channels and sensors?

  • How do you secure critical PNT systems against natural and man-made interference?

  • How do you meet stringent standards and regulations – and continue meeting them as new rules are introduced?

  • How do you master the growing complexity of those systems of systems efficiently, i.e. ensuring that you deliver your products in time and within budget?

All these challenges can only be met by extensively testing receiver designs and integrated systems. But conventional drive testing presents several shortcomings that could prevent you from testing all the criteria required to fully assure connected vehicle systems.

Though irreplaceable drive testing present costs and risks

Conventional drive testing offers a semi-realistic environment for testing connected vehicle performance, security and service quality. However, setting up drive testing environments can be a costly exercise.

Furthermore, in cases where system failure is expected, drive testing can pose significant risks to testing equipment, system prototypes and to the people operating them.
Outside of the testing process, the data generated can also be problematic. While the semi-realistic, unpredictable nature of drive tests make for a good assessment of how a system will perform in the real world, it makes tests difficult to repeat. This can limit your ability to control test variables and understand the data your tests generate.

The need for global, multi-constellation data

As they’re usually confined to a single physical space, drive tests also offer a limited amount of data on how prototypes perform in different geographies. One way around this is to perform multiple drive tests in different areas – further adding to the already high costs of real-world testing.

There is also the need to test how receivers and integrated systems process multiple GNSS constellations and frequencies to ensure PNT accuracy, continuity and resistance to interference.

Without the ability to test how your systems acquire all signals, in all geographies, drive testing can only go so far.

Simulation can help – but it must be comprehensive

GNSS simulation offers a way to overcome these challenges, while also providing a repeatable, reliable testing environment. It can also help you test how different types of interference and disruption affect the performance of your GNSS receiver.

However, for integrators and connected car OEMs, the GNSS receiver is just one element of a wider communications system. When assessing CV2X and DSRC connected vehicles, the receiver will need to be tested in concert with cellular and Wi-Fi connections respectively.

Beyond the wireless and satellite signals connected cars rely on, there’s a whole host of lidar, radar, camera and even ultrasonic sensors that play a crucial role in delivering the full benefits of the connected vehicle. Sensor fusion algorithms will need to be tested to ensure connected vehicles perform as expected.

Build a holistic test base with Spirent

Spirent can help GNSS receiver manufacturers, system integrators and connected car OEMs to thoroughly test GNSS receivers – both in isolation and as part of a wider connectivity system.

The Spirent GSS9000 is a multi-constellation, multi-frequency simulator that offers the flexibility needed to test all GNSS signals and frequencies, including regional augmentation systems and classified GPS and Galileo signals.

Providing a low RF to 1PPS delay, the GSS9000 is ideal for testing connected car use cases that demand real-time PNT data collection and processing. It also provides a repeatable, controlled environment that can significantly reduce costs compared to real-world drive testing.

As demand for connected vehicles and infrastructure continues to grow, Spirent is committed to providing powerful, flexible and future-proof simulation solutions for receiver developers, integrators and OEMs alike. And as the GNSS signal environment continues to evolve, we’re committed to ensuring you can access new signals as they emerge, as well as the latest ICDs for existing signals.

Questions about current or future Spirent capabilities? Get in touch

If you’d like to learn more about how Spirent can help with connected vehicle testing, or if you have any other questions, please do get in touch.

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Alain Vouffo
Alain Vouffo

Senior Product Manager Automotive

Dr. Alain Vouffo holds a PhD in Software Engineering and an MSc in Electrical Engineering and Communication Networks, both from the Technical University of Berlin. He has over 15 years of experience in testing and designing communication systems and their application in telecommunications, automotive, railway and medical domains. Dr. Vouffo works as an Automotive Product Manager at Spirent Communications designing test solutions for today’s vehicles with the aim of realizing the fully connected and autonomous car of the future and addressing the testing needs associated with the latest evolution of that technology.