Swift Navigation launches multi-band centimeter-accurate GNSS receiver


San Francisco-based startup Swift Navigation has launched its latest GPS receiver that boasts centimeter-accurate technology, which will provide the levels of precision required by the next generation of autonomous vehicles.

Swift has unveiled its newest product, the Piksi Multi, a multi-band, multi-constellation high-precision GNSS receiver. Autonomous devices require precision navigation, especially those that perform critical functions, and Swift believe that the new Piksi Multi represents a revolution in advanced and affordable highly-accurate GNSS capabilities for the mass market.

Swift’s systems use real-time kinematics (RTK) technology, providing location units that are 100 times more accurate than traditional GPS. RTK satellite navigation is a technique used to enhance the precision of position data derived from satellite-based positioning systems. It uses measurements of the phase of the signal’s carrier wave, rather than the information content of the signal, and relies on a single reference station or interpolated virtual station to provide real-time corrections, providing extreme accuracy.

Whereas most GPS receivers are accurate to within a 5-15ft (1.5-4.5m) radius, by using the RTK system, Swift claims positional precision to less than 1in (2.5cm). The new Piksi Multi supports GPS L1/L2 and is hardware-ready for GLONASS G1/G2, BeiDou B1/B2, Galileo E1/E5b, QZSS L1/L2 and SBAS satellite constellations, with multiple signal bands that enable convergence times measured in seconds, not minutes. Multiple satellite constellations enhance availability in new environments. The Piksi Multi is an open platform unit that enables customers to run Linux OS on its second core, allowing them to quickly prototype and adopt their own applications in a well-known and widely-used environment. Industries standing to benefit most from the new product include: autonomous vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or ‘drones’, precision agriculture, robotics, space, surveying, and R&D applications requiring precise positioning.

The company was founded on the notion that highly-precise RTK systems should be offered at an affordable price, and Swift expects the Piksi Multi to be available in early 2017, with a breakthrough cost of around US$600. Swift’s Piksi Multi Evaluation Kit has also been upgraded with all new components. The new kit contains two Piksi Multi GNSS modules, two integrator-friendly evaluation boards, two GNSS survey-grade antennas, two high-performance radios, delivering best-in-class reliability and range of well over six miles (10km), and all of the accessories required for rapid prototyping and integration. The company says that despite these top tier components, the Evaluation Kit is the lowest-priced multi-band RTK kit on the market, at US$2,000.

“With the launch of Piksi Multi, we are taking another huge step forward in delivering affordable and highly-precise GNSS technology,” said Swift Navigation’s CEO, Timothy Harris. “No one else is able to offer the centimeter-accuracy, enhanced availability and fast convergence times at such a low cost. Piksi Multi will continue to revolutionize the autonomous devices category, which is growing at an unbelievable rate.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).