INCUBATE

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INdoor navigation from CUBesAte TEchnology

The INCUBATE project aims at promoting the exploitation of LEO small satellites for precise position, navigation, and timing (PNT) information in challenging conditions and how these can be obtained in indoor environments.

Precise position, navigation, and timing (PNT) information and location-based services are crucial in various societal sectors, such as transportation and logistics, agriculture and forestry, mapping and surveying, industrial activities, search and rescue, as well as consumer smartphone applications. There is a lack of high-precision, sub-meter-level global positioning seamlessly available for outdoor and indoor navigation. Satellite navigation signals from Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) such as GPS signals are so weak, that they cannot be used reliably where they are obstructed such as indoors or in concrete, urban canyons. 

The INCUBATE project aims at:

  • promoting the exploitation of LEO small satellites for PNT in challenging conditions

  • we will investigate how LEO-based PNT can be obtained in indoor environments

  • we will optimize the signals and receivers both by improving the utilization of existing LEO’s and also by the design of a new small satellite and payload into both new and existing LEO satellites to be able to define and test the performance required for accurate indoor PNT.

Frequently asked questions

01

What is a LEO satellite?

Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites orbit at a lower attitude than traditional satellites, generally lower than 2000 Km. Compared to traditional Middle Earth Orbit (MEO) satellites, LEO are significantly smaller and generally don't have an atomic clock. 

02

What are the advantages of LEO satellites?

LEO satellites have a lower launch cost, can allow denser constellations and the received signal on Earth is stronger compared to e.g. GNSS signal.

03

What are the challenges of LEO satellites?

As LEO satellites don't have an atomic clock, synchronization is still an open challenge. Also, as their orbital period is a couple of hours, a single satellite is visible in a given area only for a few minutes.

04

How are LEO satellites and positioning related?

Due to their stronger signal and denser constellation, it is believed that LEO satellites have great potential for positioning, especially in indoor spaces, where GNSS signal is generally not available. However, there are still challenges to be solved, such as clock synchronization and limitited visibility. These are central themes investigated in the INCUBATE project.