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u-blox has announced the launch of the new M9 positioning technology platform (symbol image).
u-blox has announced the launch of the new M9 positioning technology platform (symbol image).
( Bild: gemeinfrei / CC0)

Safe and accurate satellite navigation in difficult environments

| Author / Editor: Richard Oed / Jochen Schwab

Accurate, fast, redundant and secure: this is what users expect from a satellite-based navigation system. With the M9 platform, u-blox presents a technology that not only evaluates four systems simultaneously but also detects attacks.

Attacks on satellite receivers are possible in many ways: Simple and cheap jammers can simulate wrong coordinates for a receiver, the integrity of the devices can be impaired by modified firmware or configuration settings or man-in-the-middle attacks can interfere with the communication between a satellite receiver and host.

This is where the u-blox Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) platform u-blox M9 comes in. Firstly, the new UBX-M9140 GNSS chip and the NEO-M9N module based on it are available as part of this platform. These are suitable for demanding applications in automotive engineering, telematics and UAVs (drones) and are capable of receiving signals in the L1 band from up to four GNSS constellations (GPS, Glonass, Beidou and Galileo) simultaneously. Even under difficult reception conditions, such as in canyons of streets and houses, the position can be determined to the nearest meter and additional redundancies can be provided if a satellite system is disturbed. The one-week failure of the Galileo system in July 2019 showed that such a scenario is not unlikely.

With the GNSS chip M9140 and the NEO-M9N module based on it, u-blox presents the first representatives of the new meter-accurate and robust M9 platform.
With the GNSS chip M9140 and the NEO-M9N module based on it, u-blox presents the first representatives of the new meter-accurate and robust M9 platform.
(Bild: u-blox)

HF filters and algorithms protect against interference

High dynamic range applications, such as UAVs, are enabled by a position update rate of up to 25 Hz with low latency. In addition, the M9 platform features special filtering against HF interference and jamming, spoofing detection, and advanced detection algorithms. This allows the platform to quickly report fraudulent attacks, enabling user systems to respond quickly to such attacks. For this purpose, the NEO-M9N module has an integrated surface acoustic wave (SAW) filter to reduce interference outside the band and a low-noise amplifier (LNA) in the HF path.

The UBX-M9140 chip on the module also has an adaptive and a static notch filter for in-band HF filtering. According to the manufacturer, this design is intended to ensure proper operation even in the event of severe HF interference, for example from a radio modem at the same location.

"We have developed u-blox M9 as the successor to our very successful M8 GNSS platform. The new product offers even more stable meter-accurate positioning technology and sophisticated security features that protect the integrity of automotive, telematics and UAV applications," said Bernd Heidtmann (u-blox Product Manager, Product Strategy GNSS, Product Center Positioning).

With a larger code RAM than the M8, a firmware upgrade does not have to be installed via a connected flash memory. Since the internal RAM in the M9 is sufficiently dimensioned for the entire image, it is possible to load it directly from the host. This saves an additional memory chip and board space. Users of the M9 platform also benefit from the fact that the product is part of u-blox' form factor strategy. This allows developers to develop a consistent layout and then migrate to other positioning technologies, such as the Dead-Reckoning optimized GNSS technology, with minor changes to the board design. An application report describes the migration path in detail.

Development board and samples are available

u-blox provides developers with a development board with the Explorer Kit M9 (XPLR-M9). The plug-and-play miniature device comes with the user-friendly u-start software. This includes a number of pre-set scenarios to test the performance of the new device. An evaluation module with an application I/O interface will be available for further testing towards the end of the year.

The M9 technology platform complies with ISO/TS 16949, ISO 16750 and AEC-Q100 standards. Engineering samples of the NEO-M9N module in the 12.2 mm x 16 mm LCC package, the UBX-M9140 receiver chip in the 5 mm x 5 mm QFN package and the Explorer Kit are now available.

This article was first published in German by Next Mobility.