Wide Area Inverse DGPS For Fleet Operations

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1 Wide Area Inverse DGPS For Fleet Operations By: James W. Bradley H. Keith Smith Anil Tiwari Vice President Vice President, Development Independent Consultant Differential Corrections Inc. TechnoCom Corporation 2729 Waverley St N. First St., Ste. 301A Ventura Blvd., Ste. 500 Palo Alto, CA San Jose, CA Encino, CA Tel: (408) (818) (650) Fax: (408) (818) (650)

2 WIDE AREA INVERSE DGPS FOR FLEET OPERATIONS Abstract Noting that fleet tracking was beginning to implement the use of Global Positioning System (GPS) information, and recognizing that such information would require accuracy at a reasonable cost, Differential Corrections Inc. (DCI) developed a wide area Inverse Differential GPS (I-DGPS) product offering. Numerous clients have successfully integrated DCI s I-DGPS into their fleet/asset tracking and dispatching operations. TechnoCom, who acted as the DGPS system integrator for Teletrac, is one of these clients. This paper describes some of the technical aspects of the I-DGPS, and the integration that TechnoCom performed for Teletrac. Commercial GPS users have leveraged the GPS technology that has been put in place by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). Through triangulation from GPS satellites three dimensional position information can be determined anywhere in the world. However, the commercial GPS positions can be off by as much as 100 meters due to the cumulative errors of Selective Availability (SA), ephmeris, ionospheric delays, and tropospheric effects. Knowing that users would require accuracies far better than 100 meters DCI was formed as a company in 1992 to provide differential corrections for commercial users of the GPS system. The first DCI products were Radio Data System (RDS) receivers that plug directly into the users GPS receiver. The I-DGPS product does not require receivers at the GPS units. Corrections are satellite downlinked to the clients control center where they are fed to a computer using Windows 98 or NT, and containing the software that allows for corrections to be applied to thousands of positions coming into the control center from remote vehicles. TechnoCom recognized the accuracy and economies that were applicable for Teletrac. The I- DGPS was integrated into the Teletrac system, and performed very well during testing. It is now being rolled out throughout the Teletrac market areas. This integrated system not only provides accurate reliable tracking, but also allows for expanded operational coverage for Teletrac clients. These same benefits are being realized by other users of the DCI I-DGPS service. Accurate Fleet Tracking Fleet operators are constantly seeking better methods for tracking and dispatching vehicles. In recent years there have been new systems implemented based on GPS technology. The GPS is a constellation of twenty-four satellites in high altitude orbit, put in place by the U.S. military to provide position, velocity and time information anywhere in the world, twenty-four hours per day. In order to determine position through use of the GPS satellites the user must have a GPS receiver, and be able to receive signals from at least three GPS satellites. This will determine a two dimensional location (latitude and longitude). To determine three dimensional positions (latitude, longitude, and elevation) the user must be receiving signals from a minimum of four GPS satellites. There are commercial and military signals available from the satellites, and the commercial signal can contain errors as great as 100 meters or more. These errors are a combination of atmospheric effects, system orbital issues, and the SA error induced by the U.S. DoD. 1

3 One method of correcting these errors is to install a DGPS receiver in the mobile vehicle that is able to provide error correction into the on-board GPS receiver. There are several DGPS signals available to the user including: FM sub-carrier, satellite, and beacon. Considerations of which to use include: price, reception, reliability, and packaging. Using one of these methods means that the corrected position data is in the vehicle and has to be communicated to the control center, or dispatcher. This also means that a DGPS receiver has to be purchased for each vehicle, and depending on which provider is selected, subscribing each receiver. With large fleets this can be cost prohibitive. In response to a growing demand, DCI has developed an I-DGPS. This system is aimed at users who need to accurately track large numbers of vehicles/assets throughout North America from a central location. The system has been successfully installed at client sites, and is under evaluation by multiple other prospective clients. The inverse element means that rather than correcting positions at the vehicle, the corrections to positions will be applied at the control center, or dispatcher site. The system can operate in both real-time mode or in post processed mode. In real-time mode, operators are provided with instantaneous feedback on the position of the tracked asset. In postprocessed mode, the user can capture data and correct it at a later time. Accuracy s are in the region of 2-5 meters, depending upon the implementation. The user is required to transmit over his radio network either: a. latitude/longitude/height, Pseudo Random Noise (PRN), Issue of Data for Ephemeris (IODE), and GPS time. This method requires ~44 bytes for 10 satellites excluding header and checksum. This method also requires that there be a matching DGPS correction for each satellite used, or there will be no solution. b. the satellite PRN and pseudo range for each visible satellite. The latter requires ~58 bytes for 10 satellites ignoring header and checksum information. This is the preferred method, as solutions continue to be valid even if DGPS corrections are not available for all satellites DCI has developed a wide area network in North America that has been named the EAGLE network. Being a State Space Network, the DCI EAGLE wide area network calculates each of the GPS errors separately including selective availability, ephemeris (satellite orbital data), troposphere and ionosphere delays. This allows the user to selectively apply these different error sources. This is important because the GPS receiver may have already corrected for one of these error sources, and double correction will cause large errors. EAGLE is a third generation State Space Model developed in conjunction with Stanford University. Additional details of the DCI EAGLE network are available at the DCI web site under "Technical Papers" entitled "DGPS Architecture Based on Separating Error Components." 2

4 Target Users In general, any user that wants to operate from a central control location, and be able to track/locate many fielded units in real time or by post processing could benefit from this approach. Applications such as E911 location of calls; panic buttons on individual units or invehicle units; AVL dispatching of units already in the field; tracking of assets such as containers, trailers, railcars, etc.; could be handled in real time. Applications involving AVL where the intent is to determine route/time traveled during a shift for improving efficiency of routing, etc., could be post processed. The vehicle could collect data during the shift, and then do a batch download for post processing. Installation Installation at the tracking location consists of software, a Ku band satellite dish, and a satellite receiver. The feed could also be delivered via TCP/IP. Integration with the users application is via a DCI supplied Application Programming Interface (API). This API supports multiple simultaneous users, so that a large number of assets can be tracked at one time. A block diagram of a typical DCI Inverse DGPS is shown in Figure 1 below. Coverage The system will provide for full coverage with accuracy to 2-5 meters throughout the USA excluding Alaska and Hawaii, plus southern Canada. Utilizing pseudo ranges as described above, viable coverage with accuracy to 10 meters is possible throughout Canada, Alaska, Mexico and Central America. 3

5 Figure 1: DCI Inverse DGPS System Field Units Mobile Units Remote Units Portable Units GPS Receiver GPS Receiver GPS Receiver GPS Receiver Radio Modem Radio Modem Radio Modem Radio Modem Radio Modem DCI Wide Area Network Satellite Downlink IBM PC running WinNT Call Center DCI Inverse Differential GPS System The DCI system consists of twelve reference monitoring stations (RMS) that are scattered throughout the country. The RMS s are all connected to a frame relay network and use this network to send raw data to a central station at DCI in San Jose and another backup site in Raleigh. A Windows NT computer receives all the raw data and generates composite DGPS corrections. These composite corrections can be used by a virtual base station to generate RTCM corrections. The composite corrections are sent via frame relay to a ku-satellite uplink site in 4

6 Raleigh. At a downlink site, a ku receiver receives the composite corrections and feeds them to a PC where the Inverse WAD DLL (Dynamic Link Library) resides. This DLL is a 32-bit DLL that works with Windows-95 and NT. It can be called by multiple applications at a time and can even be called from multiple threads of an application. The DLL decodes the data which consists of the following components: 1. Selective Availability (SA) error: This correction accounts for the largest error in the pseudorange for a satellite. It is a scalar correction which means that it is the same for a given satellite everywhere. It is sent for each satellite that is visible in the network. 2. Ephemeris error: This is a vector correction and so it depends on where the user is in relation to the satellite. 3. Ionospheric error: This error is caused by a delay in the GPS signal as it propagates through the ionosphere. Iono corrections are sent in the form of a grid that covers the whole network. This grid has a spacing of 5 degrees. 4. Tropospheric error: This error is caused by the troposphere and is a function of the elevation of the satellite and the temperature, pressure and relative humidity at the user site. The meteorological data is downloaded from a NOAA satellite and is then sent to the ku receiver. In a typical Inverse DGPS application, there is a rover GPS receiver that sends the following data to a user application: time of fix, uncorrected position and/or pseudoranges, and satellites used. The user application calls the DLL with this data. There are two modes of operation for the DLL. 1. Position mode: In this mode, the application sends an uncorrected position and the satellites that were used to generate that position. The DLL uses the corrections for those satellites and returns a corrected position. The DLL can correct the position only if it has corrections for all the satellites that the rover used. If even one correction is missing, the DLL won t be able to correct the position. 2. Measurement mode: In this mode, the application sends pseudoranges for all the satellites that the rover is tracking. The DLL then uses whichever satellites it has corrections for and computes a corrected position. The advantage of this mode is that the DLL can compute a position even if it doesn t have corrections for all the satellites. The DLL returns a result code and a structure containing the corrected position, satellites used and DOP back to the application. The result code of OK tells the application that the corrected Lat/Lon/Alt are good and can be trusted. Other result codes indicate some warning or error condition, for example, no corrections, less than 4 satellites, high DOP and high RMS error. There are numerous users that have implemented the DCI Inverse DGPS. One such user is Teletrac. The integration of the Inverse DGPS into the Teletrac system was accomplished by TechnoCom. The following text is a description of that application, and the performance of the system. AVL Customer Profile TechnoCom Corporation was founded in 1995 to provide system engineering services and 5

7 engineering product development support in the areas of wireless data and location technologies. The company has a rich history in location technology development stemming from pioneering work in time-of-arrival (TOA) solutions developed for both terrestrial and satellite-based networks. TechnoCom has applied this experience to groundbreaking developments in all aspects of radio location including E9-1-1 location systems, GPS-based AVL applications, and Location and Monitoring Services (LMS). Teletrac Inc., one of TechnoCom's major customers, is the leading provider of vehicle location and fleet management services to large and small businesses in the US. Teletrac currently uses a proprietary reliable and accurate AVL system. However, it requires a special network of receive and transmit sites to be deployed in the service area. The typical system coverage area is 500 to 2500 square miles. For example, the Teletrac system in the Los Angeles area covers all of LA and Orange county and most of Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura counties. To locate a customer vehicle with the current Teletrac system, pages are sent to custom transceiver or Vehicle Location Unit (VLU) over a narrow-band paging channel. Upon receipt of its address, the VLU responds by transmitting a direct sequence spread spectrum signal that is received by the multiple receive sites. Each receive site performs a time of arrival (TOA) measurement that are used to compute the latitude and longitude of the VLU. This location information is then passed on to the requester where it is displayed as a dot on a map or as a street address. The typical location accuracy achieved by the system is 15 to 30 meters CEP. Transmitters VLU Receivers VLU Customer Workstation Teletrac Network Control Center VLU Functional Overview of Teletrac System Elements The Teletrac network has been deployed to a dozen metropolitan areas across the U.S. The system is currently operational in the extended metropolitan areas of Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento, Detroit, Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, Orlando, Miami, Baltimore, and Washington D.C., and New York. To extend coverage to additional cities and to provide additional coverage and message data capacity to the existing networks, TechnoCom and Teletrac have recently developed the Teletrac Plus system that uses the public Cellular Digital Packet Data (CDPD) network for network to vehicle communication and GPS for vehicle location. This enhanced Teletrac Plus 6

8 service will immediately provide Teletrac's customers with an expanded service area and improved messaging capabilities. It is important to note that Teletrac Plus is being developed as an augmentation to the existing Teletrac system and not as a replacement. In many markets, the two technologies will operate together to provide a seamless location system to allow existing customers with a new wider area of operation for location and messaging services. In order for the new system to maintain the level of location accuracy that customers are accustom to (15 to 30 meter CEP), differential correction of the GPS derived locations are required. Because the Teletrac Plus system will be deployed across the nation, it was determined during an early study phase that a network of DGPS receivers would be required. A cost tradeoff study showed that while this could be implemented by Teletrac, using the data available from the DCI Eagle network would be much more cost effective. DCI EAGLE DGPS Network Broadcast CDPD Network GPS Customer Map Workstation Teletrac NCC The Teletrac Plus System uses GPS and CDPD to expand network coverage. Another study determined that since CDPD does not support multicast data, it would not be cost effective to send the DGPS corrections to each vehicle in the network. Instead, inverse differential GPS (I-DGPS) was chosen. For Teletrac, I-DGPS is a good solution because all the location information passes through the Network Control Center before transmission to the customer workstation. 7

9 DCI EAGLE DGPS Network Broadcast GPS Teletrac Network Control Center I-DGPS Processing Frame Relay Connection CDPD Network Dial-up Modem or Leased Line Customer Map Workstation Optional MDT VLU+ Processor CDPD Modem GPS Receiver Functional Block Diagram of Teletrac Plus System with I-DGPS This centralized system architecture lends itself to an integrated inverse differential solution. Software engineers from Teletrac and TechnoCom integrated a DLL from DCI as part of the Teletrac Plus system. This DLL receives updates from the EAGLE network and provides corrected locations based on the pseudo-ranges reported by the vehicles. Several measures of quality insure that the corrected location is at least as good as the location computed at the remote GPS receiver in the vehicle. Overall accuracy testing of the Teletrac Plus system is still being performed, but preliminary testing has shown that the corrected locations are well within the limits of the ETAK map database. Earlier testing showed that all the locations provided by the I-DGPS DLL had less than a 10-meter total error and had a CEP of less than 5 meters. This level of accuracy is more than adequate for an AVL system. The vehicle device for the Teletrac Plus network is the VLU+, which has gone through three generations as part of its development. First, five trial units were built to verify the initial concept and to validate the performance of the CDPD modem, network, and GPS receiver. Next, 100 pilot units were developed and fielded as part of a 3-month customer trial. Finally, based on the feedback from the trial as well as new cost requirements, a production version of the VLU+ was developed to support the initial Teletrac Plus system deployment in the first quarter of

10 TechnoCom developed the VLU+ in close coordination with Teletrac. The production unit uses the Uniden 1001 OEM CDPD modem and the Ashtech G8 OEM GPS receiver under control of a custom software application developed by TechnoCom. This software also provides power management, vehicle I/O, and special message processing to retain compatibility with the existing message formats of the Teletrac system. Based on initial customer feedback, the Teletrac Plus system and the VLU+ are a hit with customers. The use of public CDPD networks to transmit GPS derived vehicle locations allows customers to roam yet still have location information in any of the more than 130 markets in the US with CDPD service. Customers also use the VLU+ to exchange messages with their fleet vehicles and in the future will be able to access their company s intranet directly from their vehicles using a laptop or other mobile computer. Conclusion OpenTrac Mobile Unit shown with GPS and cellular antennas and MDT. GPS technology is proving to be a valuable tool in tracking and dispatching fleet vehicles. However to be truly effective there must be corrections applied to the GPS position information. These corrections must be available at an economical price. They must also be able to perform with thousands of positions being sent into the control center. The DCI I-DGPS service has successfully met all these requirements. Companies such as TechnoCom have been able to better meet the needs of their clients through use of the I-DGPS service, and companies such as Teletrac have been able to benefit from the service. All fleet operations, whether they are trucking, bus or taxi, rail, containers, etc., can benefit from the use of GPS technology for tracking and dispatching. These fleets can be as small as a few vehicles, or as large as tens of thousands of vehicles. The economies of the DCI I-DGPS allow for all fleet operators to improve their operations through the use of this technology. The benefits are not only those of economies and more accurate tracking/dispatching, but improvements in response time and in safety for fast accurate location. 9

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