Universal Tracking: the truly scalable technology

Navigation and positioning has come a long way

Satellite-based navigation and positioning has come a long way since it’s initial concept and introduction during the late 1970’s. At that time, the US DoD Navstar GPS (Global Positioning System) and the Russian GLONASS (Globalnaya Navigatsionnaya Sputnikovaya Sistema) were the only two systems available for use. Even then, trying to use the two system concurrently was a difficult task, only realistically achieved in scientific and academic environments.

With the limited number of satellites available and the fact that only two frequencies (L1 & L2) were being broadcast on each available system, there was only a limited requirement for signal channel hardware, indeed most receivers (including those used for surveying) were limited in the number of channels, and these channels were fixed to receiving specific signals. 

"UTC is a truly scalable technology, with each receiver channel able to receive any incoming GNSS signal. This is the most efficient method of handling tracking, allowing up to 60% more satellite signal reception using the same number of channels."

A proliferation of satellite systems

Since then there has been an explosion in the number of satellite systems available. At the last count, you could see (or expect to see soon) GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, SBAS, QZSS, Beidou depending upon your whereabouts in the world. Combine this with an increase in the number of signal frequencies available and it’s not hard to understand that many of the original receivers would not be up to the task of functioning correctly within the modern GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) environment.

Manufacturers took different routes to resolve these issues, such as limiting the signals that each receiver channel can support, or fixing a number of GNSS channels to track each specific satellite, so restricting the full utilization of current of proposed systems.

" UTC also allows for this high level of performance on a much reduced hardware footprint, which in turn leads to reduced and more efficient power consumption."

The most innovative approach

As the industry leader in satellite technologies, Topcon took perhaps the most innovative approach to overcoming this issue. As it became clear that the skies would soon be full with incoming signals, with a potential range of frequency values, Topcon engineers devised our Universal Tracking Channels (UTC) technology. As the name suggests, UTC is a truly scalable technology, which allows each individual receiver channel to be able to receive any incoming GNSS signal. This is a far more efficient method of tackling the issue, and in comparison to other manufacturers devices, allows for up to 60% more satellite signal reception using the same number of channels!

In addition to the advantages mentioned above, UTC also allows for this level of performance to take place on a much reduced hardware footprint, which in turn leads to reduced and more efficient power consumption.

It’s not hard to imagine that these benefits can also lead to further and greater developments in the future, especially in respect of creating smaller, more efficient high performance market-focused devices for a wide range of cross-industry applications.

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