BREAKING: ISRO Miniaturized The NavIC Receiver

NOT deterred by the malfunctioning of one
of the NavIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation) satellites, the Indian Space Research Organisation
(ISRO) is getting set for commercial roll out of ‘desi’ GPS in the second quarter
of next year.The crucial miniaturisation of chipsets that go into wireless devices such
as cell phones and wifi receivers has been achieved by the ISRO. One of the important
elements for NavIC is the user receivers. User receivers are dedicated for finding user
position using NavIC satellite signals. The Space Application Centre (SAC) is responsible
for development of NavIC user receiver. The technology for this is already available with
SAC in a larger form. For mass applications like vessel tracking, vehicle tracking etc
a smaller factor, low power and low cost receiver was needed. As per different applications two different
kinds of hardwares are required – digital and RF (radio frequency) front end. “Our
semiconductor laboratory (SCL) in Chandigarh has developed the digital hardware and tested
it. Now, the RF front end hardware is expected to hit the markets next month,” said Tapan
Misra, director of Ahmedabad-based SAC to the Express. Initially ISRO invited the industry to design
and develop the chipsets. However there was little interest shown because of high investment
costs. “The market didn’t want to take the first step. So we took it on ourselves
to do it. Our SCL has developed the digital chips and for manufacturing prototypes of
RF Front End hardware, we gave the order to Tower Jazz, a US-based firm specialised in
silicon germanium technology suited for increasing bandwidth. We are planning to set-up a fabrication
facility with silicon germanium processing technology in SCL,” Misra said. To a query whether using a US firm’s services
would dent the NavIC branding being totally ‘desi’, Misra said intellectual property
rights of the design were with ISRO. “It’s only a commercial order to Tower Jazz, which
won’t even know what it is,” he clarified. ISRO chairman A S Kiran Kumar told Express
that the replacement satellite for IRNSS-1A, which erred, would be launched in August.
Meanwhile, both digital and RF platforms would be integrated into one device that would offer
greater bandwidth and excel in low power digital circuit implementations. “The large data demands of today’s mobile,
cloud, and big data applications and services mandated high speed communication connectivity
solutions using wireless, wireline, or optical connectivity with ever increasing data rates
and bandwidth. These applications require greater chip integration, higher performance,
and increased bandwidth while delivering reduced power consumption and in cost effective solutions,”
said Kiran Kumar. Misra said the final version would be an 11-channel
chipset (7 NavIC satellites and four GPS satellites) operating under dual frequency (S and L bands).
This actually delivered higher accuracy than GPS.
“GPS is dependent on L band and atmospheric disturbances affected its performance. To
assess the errors, atmospheric models are used which would go erratic. In our case,
we measure the difference in delay of dual frequency (S and L bands) and can assess the
actual delay. Therefore NavIC is not dependent on any model to find the frequency error and
is more accurate than GPS. To be precise, NavIC will provide standard positioning service
to all users with a position accuracy of 5 metres. The GPS on the other hand, has a position
accuracy of 20-30 metres,” Mishra said.

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