The volume of data produced in the world is growing rapidly, from 33 zettabytes in 2018 to an expected 175 zettabytes in 2025. Today 80% of the processing and analysis of data takes place in data centres and 20% in smart connected objects, such as cars or home appliances, and in computing facilities close to the user (‘edge computing’). By 2025 these proportions are likely to be inverted. This massive landscape has led to a new golden age of Machine learning (ML).
Machine learning is an Artificial Intelligence application that involves algorithms able to extract knowledge and discover patterns between input and output variables. ML includes a great number of algorithms with different types of learning methods. Artificial neural networks, evolutionary algorithms, decision tree classifiers, clustering algorithms or fuzzy logic inference are some of the most commonly used techniques to identify particularities and correlations in data.
At the GNSS space segment, four global constellations are operational, including the European Galileo system. On ground, thousands of permanent GNSS stations and millions of Internet-of-things (IoT) devices, including smartphones, have contributed to the deployment of a “de-facto” large IoT GNSS receiver. Hence, the application of ML on the data produced by this global and permanent GNSS infrastructure constitutes a major opportunity for GNSS science applications.
Nowadays, scientific activities in GNSS are carried out by highly specialised communities. Initiatives like the International GNSS Service contribute to provide on an openly available basis, data, products and services in support of different science domains. However, despite relationships across domains, scientific exploitation of GNSS data and products is implemented by different vertical systems with ad-hoc mechanisms to exchange information. This approach leads to difficulties in accessing and integrating resources from multiple areas.
Therefore, the GNSS Science Support Centre (GSSC) leverages on mainstream Big Data, Cloud, Virtualisation and Container technologies to address key GNSS science Use Cases, through ML science pipelines.
In general, the GNSS navigation chain is composed of a network of GNSS sensors aiming at collecting some data from a space segment (core-constellation of satellites), and a set of algorithms processing this data to produce a navigation message. The accuracy of physical modelling and robustness against errors will determine the ability to interpret GNSS data.
One relevant source of these errors is the ionosphere. In this layer, the ionizing radiation from the Sun originates the existence of electrons, in quantities that affect the propagation of radio signals. Correlations across data from crowdsourced and ionospheric enabled GNSS dedicated receivers, would contribute to the definition of ML enhanced Total Electron Content (TEC) maps to model and predict ionospheric parameters relevant for PNT.
Interference/man-made vulnerabilities are also at the core of many PNT error sources. In this domain, the availability of raw data measurements from crowdsourced devices combined with ML techniques can unveil new interference patterns and countermeasures with potential for the introduction of adaptive signal processing algorithms.
Moreover, current research work has shown the potential of GNSS observations in providing accurate and reliable information for retrieval of atmospheric parameters like water vapour or temperature. Measurements or predicted values of these data could be provided as inputs to a high-fidelity atmospheric density model to calculate, in a more precise way, the atmospheric density. In this field, the information gathered from IoT GNSS devices combined with ML algorithms represents another opportunity for a better understanding of weather effects.
Find here GSSC featured datalabs for exploring new GNSS science applications.