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New Engineering Team at NovAtel Focuses on Positioning Technology for Autonomous Vehicles

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May 17, 2016
Inside GNSS, May/June 2016

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NovAtel Inc. announced today (May 17, 2016) a new corporate initiative to develop functionally safe GNSS positioning technology for fully autonomous applications.

A provider of high-precision GNSS products for more than 20 years, NovAtel is leveraging its extensive experience developing safety-critical systems for the aviation industry to meet the future safety thresholds required for driverless cars and autonomous applications in agriculture, mining, and other government, military and commercial markets.

According to the Calgary, Alberta, Canada–based company, NovAtel formed a specialized Safety Critical Systems Group in early 2015 comprised of highly skilled engineers with backgrounds in functional safety as well as all aspects of GNSS and inertial navigation systems (INS) technology. The Safety Critical Systems Group is focused on creating positioning products that will meet the challenging performance and safety requirements of autonomous vehicles at the necessary production volumes and at the required price point, NovAtel says.

With work under way for more than a year, NovAtel plans to achieve compliance by the end of 2016 with ISO/TS 16949, an international technical standard that defines the quality-management system requirements for the design and development, production, and, when relevant, installation and service of automotive-related products. This is the first milestone in the Safety Critical Systems Group’s path and will be followed by an ISO 26262-compliant product. ISO 26262 is an international standard for functional safety of electrical and/or electronic systems in production of automobiles as defined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in 2011.

Working within safety-critical requirements is part of NovAtel’s DNA, says Michael Ritter, president & CEO, who added, “Aviation in North America relies on NovAtel technology to ensure safe navigation and landing,” referring to the Federal Aviation Agency’s Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) and other global space-based augmentation systems (SBAS) that have incorporated certified NovAtel GNSS receivers into their systems. “With full GNSS signal and constellation support needed to solve the performance criteria of autonomous driving, NovAtel is uniquely qualified to deliver the optimal solution that will keep us all safe as we drive the autonomous highways of the future,” Ritter said.

NovAtel manufactures high precision GNSS receivers, antennas and subsystems, as well as integrated GNSS and INS solutions. Through its TerraStar correction service, NovAtel also offers a global precise point positioning (PPP) correction solution that the company says is already designed for safety-of-life applications.

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