Verizon builds cm-level RTK into 5G network to prep for drone deliveries, driverless cars
Verizon is deploying real-time kinematic (RTK) satellite navigation on its 5G network in the US, to offer hyper-precise positioning with centimetre-level location accuracy for IoT tracking services, and notably development of drone deliveries and autonomous vehicles.
Standard GPS positioning affords location accuracy of three-to-nine metres; RTK positioning goes to one-to-two centimetres, said Verizon. RTK-based ‘hyper-precise location’ services will “redefine the possibilities of IoT,” it added.
It is developing road safety and autonomous driving solutions based on its new network capability with mapping company HERE Technologies and autonomous driving specialist Renovo.
Verizon is deploying RTK ‘reference stations’ nationwide, with rollout of its 5G radio network and multi-access edge compute (MEC) architecture. It said this combination – of 5G connectivity, close-quarters processing, and highly-accurate positioning – will lend itself naturally to autonomous driving technologies.
Verizon is working with HERE Technologies on new vehicle and pedestrian road safety mechanisms with RTK integrated into vehicle-to-network (V2N) communications. In particular, they are looking at comms-and-compute design for collision avoidance, to identify traffic, predict likely travel paths, and warn of potential collisions.
Its work with Renovo is also about “transformative solutions critical for the future of autonomy on the road”, with a focus on integrating machine learning into RTK-based data streams.
The trio is also pitching RTK-based positioning as a source of “customer-approved location data” for first responders during emergencies, as well as a mainstay of Industry 4.0 in distribution centres and manufacturing plants, for more advanced robotics.
Verizon is working with a number of device manufacturers to make RTK devices available; IoT devices currently using RTK can be accessed via its ThingSpace management platform.
Nicola Palmer, chief product development officer at Verizon, said: “We are scaling RTK to… [transform] what is currently possible when it comes to location-enabled services and new IoT solutions coming onto the market. Continued growth in IoT means billions of devices in fields where precision location services are becoming more critical, such as vehicle automation, unmanned aerial vehicles, precision agriculture technology, infrastructure monitoring, asset tracking, and high-value shipping.”
Jørgen Behrens, senior vice president and chief product officer at HERE Technologies, said: “Moving beyond the static fidelity of satellite-based location data enables an exciting new generation of connected, autonomous experiences.
“By pairing HERE’s live, hyper-precise HD Map and HD Positioning technologies with intelligent RTK algorithms, and making that scalable, Verizon is putting a transformative level of location insights into the hands of developers and consumers alike.”
Christopher Heiser, chief executive and co-founder of Renovo, said: “RTK is a critical technology for advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS). Accurate positioning helps ADAS vehicles navigate better, drive smoother, and react faster to the surrounding environment.
“Nationwide, reliable RTK networks make for a viable way to deliver these enhanced capabilities to mass-market cars and trucks. For companies that manage the huge datasets that power next-generation vehicle platforms like Renovo, this is very exciting.”