Complexity and Limitations of GNSS Signal Reception in Highly Obstructed Enviroments
Published online first on March 9, 2021.
Multipath (MP) and/or Non Line-Of-Sight (NLOS) reception remains a potential vulnerability to satellite-based positioning and navigation systems in high multipath environments, such as an urban canyon. In such an environment, satellite signals are reflected, scattered or faded, and sometimes completely blocked by roofs and walls of high-rise buildings, fly-over bridges, complex road structures, etc. making positioning and navigation information inaccurate, unreliable, and largely unavailable. The magnitude of the positioning error depends on the satellite visibility, geometric distribution of satellites in the sky, and received signal quality and characteristics. The quality of the received signal (i.e. its statistical characteristics) can significantly vary in different environments and these variations can reflect in signal strength or power, range measurements (i.e. path delay and phase difference), and frequency, all of which distort the correlation curve between the received signal and receiver-generated replicas, resulting in range errors of tens of meters. Therefore, in order to meet stringent requirements defined for the Standard Positioning Service (SPS), the characterization of distortions that could significantly affect a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) signal is essentially important. The scope of this paper is to detect possible imperfections/deviations in the GNSS signal characteristics that can occur due to MP or NLOS reception and analyze its effects. For this purpose, analysis of fading patterns in received signal strength (i.e. Carrier-to-Noise Ratio and strength fluctuations) is carried out in both clear LOS and high MP environment and then its impact on satellite lock state (i.e. tracking) is assessed. Furthermore, phase fluctuations and range residuals are computed to analyze the effects of path delays. The results show that significant variations can occur in GNSS signal characteristics in the MP environment that may result in loss of lock event and inaccurate/faulty range measurements.
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