On June 26, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released the summary of the results of Commercial Weather Data Pilot (CWDP) Round 2. View the summary here.
In Round 2, NOAA evaluated GNSS radio occultation data from two U.S. commercial space companies: GeoOptics and Spire. NOAA concludes that, based on the results of CWDP Round 2, the commercial sector is able to provide radio occultation data that can support NOAA’s operational products and services.
“As a result, NOAA is proceeding with plans to acquire commercial RO data for operational use,” the summary states.
According to GeoOptics, the report highlights the unique qualities of its commercial GNSS-RO data and its ability to improve weather and space weather forecasts around the world.
“As today’s report demonstrates, commercial satellite data will enable NOAA to make significant improvements in forecasting worldwide within the consistent budget limitations under which it operates,” said GeoOptics CEO Conrad Lautenbacher.
NOAA anticipates release of a request for proposals soon for operational purchase of commercial radio occultation data, continuing an acquisition process that began in April with NOAA’s release of a draft Statement of Work.
NOAA has requested $15 million in FY 2021 to support Commercial Data Purchase. The FY 2021 Budget also requests $8 million for CWDP to investigate new commercial technologies beyond radio occultation.
By moving into this next phase of engagement with U.S. industry, NOAA is leveraging commercial space sector capabilities to support its operational products and services and to continue to improve its weather forecasting capabilities. NOAA plans to implement additional rounds of the CWDP to evaluate commercial capabilities beyond radio occultation data for potential operational use.
Septentrio has launched the mosaic-T GPS/GNSS receiver module, built specifically for resilient and precise time and frequency synchronization under challenging conditions.
According to the company, its multi-frequency, multi-constellation GNSS technology — together with AIM+ Advanced Interference Mitigation algorithms — allows mosaic-T to achieve maximal availability even in the presence of GNSS jamming or spoofing. This compact surface-mount module is designed for automated assembly and high-volume production.
“We are excited to expand our mosaic GNSS module family with mosaic-T, which will provide critical infrastructure and mission-critical PNT applications with accurate, reliable and resilient timing solutions,” said Francois Freulon, head of product management at Septentrio.
Septentrio mosaic-T delivers timing with nanosecond-level accuracy and has additional inputs for an external high-accuracy clock, the company added.
Septentrio, headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, designs and manufactures multi-frequency multi-constellation GPS/GNSS positioning technology for demanding applications.
SBG Systems has announced the third generation of its Ellipse series of miniature inertial sensors. The renewed product line benefits from a 64-bit architecture, allowing high precision signal processing.
All of the INS/GNSS devices now embed a dual-frequency, quad constellations GNSS receiver for centimetric position and higher orientation accuracy.
SBG Systems manufactures miniature high-accuracy inertial navigation systems with inertial measurement unit (IMU) design, calibration and filtering. All improvements made in the high-end lines could naturally benefit the Ellipse miniature line.
The Ellipse series includes four models.
Ellipse-A is a motion sensor
Ellipse-E provides navigation with an external GNSS receiver
Ellipse-N is a single-antenna RTK GNSS/INS
Ellipse-D is a dual-antenna RTK GNSS/INS
With its new 64-bit architecture, the third-generation Ellipse series enables the use of high-precision algorithms and technology used in high-end inertial systems such as rejection filters and FIR filtering.
All Ellipse miniature INS are now RTK-enabled without extra cost, and output raw data for post-processing. All these features are made possible in a small, robust aluminum-enclosure box version, as well as in the 17-gram OEM version.
The 17-gram OEM version of the Ellipse-D can provide drones with high-end features. Its dual antennas gives UAVs robust instant heading for take-off. Dual antenna is
achievable with a very short baseline, down to 50 centimeters. Integration is enabled with ROS and PX4 drivers
, full API, and free phone and email technical support.
Ellipse-D is the smallest dual-frequency, dual-antenna RTK GNSS/INS device offered.
With its dual-frequency RTK GNSS receiver, the Ellipse-D provides a centimeter positioning. Dual frequency provides more robust heading and position computation than single-frequency receivers. It also allows high performance in attitude (0.05°) and in heading (0.2°).
With its dual-antenna capability, Ellipse-D provides precise heading in a few seconds, in all dynamic conditions, and even in challenging GNSS conditions. It is also immune to magnetic disturbances. Ellipse-D is a quad-constellation receiver, simultaneously using signals from GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou and Galileo to enable navigation in challenging conditions.
Designed with high quality industrial-grade components, Ellipse inertial sensors are highly tested and calibrated in dynamic and temperature for consistent, repeatable behavior in all conditions.
The big news in the geospatial world at the moment is Facebook’s acquisition of Mapillary. For those unfamiliar, Mapillary is a darling of the mapping world and one of the highest-profile geospatial startups of the last decade—launched in 2013, their mission was to create a global street-level imagery dataset to rival Google Street View.
Mapillary was the prototypical “venture-scale” business — preposterously ambitious, technically impressive, inarguably valuable for the world, and plausibly monetizable. What Mapillary accomplished in a short seven years is simply staggering. Google, with an enormous head start and untold resources at the ready to support Street View announced last year that they’ve collected over ten million miles of street imagery. Mapillary, on the other hand, crossed three million miles of mapped streets in 2018 and has more than doubled the number of images in their catalog in the years since (to over one billion!), putting them squarely in the same conversation as Google. That’s an insane accomplishment for any company, let alone a startup who, over its lifetime, raised ~$25M or about half of the annual compensation package for a typical member of Google’s C-Suite.
In addition, they’ve created some stuff I deeply admire as a member of the broader open source geospatial community. Two quick examples:
OpenSfM, a popular computer vision engine for stitching together overlapping images to reconstruct places in 3D.
Vista, a free 25K image dataset labeled for semantic segmentation — one of the largest such open datasets in existence.
What is Facebook Up To, Exactly?
If you predicted Facebook would acquire Mapillary, congratulations — you are probably alone. Apart from a public image that stands in cartoonish opposition to Mapillary’s ethos of grassroots community building and radical openness, Facebook doesn’t really do maps, do they? Google, Apple, and Microsoft have invested billions into consumer mapping applications and acquired numerous companies to support those efforts. Any of those three behemoths would have felt like natural landing spots for Mapillary. But Facebook? What’s that about?
Unless you are already tapped into the seedy underworld known as the “geospatial industry,” you can be forgiven for not knowing that Facebook actually does do maps. In this incredible paper¹ released j̶u̶s̶t̶ ̶l̶a̶s̶t̶ ̶m̶o̶n̶t̶h̶ just over a year ago², researchers found that Facebook has contributed over 800,000 kilometers of mapped roads to OpenStreetMap (if you’re unfamiliar, it’s one of the largest crowdsourcing projects in history). They rank third in kilometers mapped behind Mapbox/Development Seed (1.69M) and Apple (1.64M).
And beyond directly contributing cartographic features to OSM, they’ve publicly released an open source, AI-assisted road mapping tool called RapID that is an impressive thing to witness in action. They also support the OSM Foundation at the highest corporate giving level and have had a formidable presence at the annual OSM conference the past few years.
Still — the mere fact Facebook has dipped its gargantuan toes into the mappy water doesn’t explain why they would bother with acquiring Mapillary.