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Surface Positioning Systems

Subsea Survey & Positioning UK Ltd.

Presentation Overview


• Surface Positioning Systems

• The Constellation & Signals
• Computing Our Position
• Increasing Accuracy
• Positioning What?
Surface Positioning Systems
Surface Positioning Systems


•Sextant & Chronometer

•Network of Navigation Beacons
•Radio Based Navigation Systems
Surface Positioning Systems

Radio Navigation

• “Better” Than A Sextant & Chronometer

•More Robust Position
•More Accurate
•Easier To Calculate a Position
• Limitations Non-The-Less
•Decca Coverage – Max ~740km
•Interference – Multiple Sources
•Decca Accuracy – ~200m
•Upkeep Cost?
Surface Positioning Systems

What Now?

• Global Navigation Satellite System(s) – GNSS

• The ubiquitous standard positioning and
navigation system(s) for the offshore industry
• The accepted survey and positioning system in
the offshore energy sector (Oil, Gas,
Surface Positioning Systems

GNSS – The Main Players

• GNSS – The name given to all space based satellite

navigation system(s)
• GPS – United States of America – 31 SVs
• GLONASS – Russian Federation – 24 SVs
• GALILEO – European Union – 4 SVs “Operational”
(30 Intended)
• Beidou 2 – Peoples Republic of China – 10
Operational (75 Intended)
Surface Positioning Systems

GNSS – The Constellations

• Operational GNSS Constellations



Beidou (Compass)
Surface Positioning Systems

GNSS – The Physical Realisation


Surface Positioning Systems

GNSS – The Space Segment

• Constellation(s) of orbiting SVs

• Transmit to users who can only
passively receive data
• SVs signals are weak
• The user must have line-of-sight
• The signal is subject to
interference during its journey
through space and the earths
Surface Positioning Systems

GNSS – The GPS Control Segment

• Command & Control

• Master Control Station (MCS)
• Alternative MCS
• x4 Ground Antennas
• x6 Monitor Stations
• Monitors the system integrity and
• Maintains SV orbits
Surface Positioning Systems

GNSS – The User Segment

• Hardware - Antenna
• Receives the GNSS signals
• Hardware – Receiver
• Decodes the GNSS signals and
determines a position
• Software
• Processes live or recorded and
stored GNSS data
The Constellation & Signals
The Constellation & Signals

GPS – The Ubiquitous System

• Baseline 24+3 satellite constellation in medium earth

orbit (MEO)
• Presently 31 operational satellites
• Global coverage, 24 hours a day, all weather
• Satellites broadcast precise time and orbit
information on L-band radio frequencies
• 6 orbital planes, 55° inclination
• 20,180 km above earth’s surface
• 11:58 Orbital Period
Computing Our Position
Computing Our Position

GNSS – How do we know where we are?

• A position consists of 3 components (XYZ or Lat, Long, Height)
which will allows a user to position themselves on the Earth
• Pseudo-range ( PR SR ) is computed by the receiver

• Broadcast ephemeris contains the satellite coordinates (XS, YS, ZS)

and the satellite clock offset (δtS) at the instant of satellite

• Signal propagation is modelled ( ∆ATM RS )

Therefore to determine the position of a receiver, ranges to at least

four satellites are required in order to solve for the four unknowns:

• Coordinates (XYZ) for user’s location and receiver clock offset

(δτR) at the instant of signal reception
Computing Our Position

GNSS – How do we know where we are?

• Calculating the Pseudo-range – Not a direct measurement of distance……

Computing Our Position

GNSS Errors – The Prime Suspects Calc SV Pos True SV Pos

• Sources of pseudo-range error C
• SV Orbit (O)
• SV Clock (C)
• Signal delay due ionosphere (I) T

• Signal delay due troposphere (T)

• Signal reflections at user receiver
• Errors in user equipment (δτR)

we need to remove this

Increasing Accuracy
Increasing Accuracy

Why do we need to and how?

• GNSS was primarily designed for navigation and timing

• Survey and Offshore communities require a higher level of accuracy

• Increased dynamic accuracy can be achieved through relative positioning

using Differential GNSS or Precise Point Positioning

• Relative positioning or Precise Point Positioning allows for the correction

or reduction of GNSS error sources that contaminate a stand-alone GNSS
Increasing Accuracy

What is DGNSS?

• Requires a number of precisely located reference stations where the

measurement error to each satellite is calculated by comparing known and
measured range
• Errors remain similar for other GNSS users within several hundred kilometres of
reference station
• Error information is generally delivered to the user via satellite
• Robustness is improved by using data from multiple reference stations and
multiple broadcasts
• As the distance between the user and reference station increases the accuracy
decreases – 1m within 1000Km and <3m within 2000Km of a station
Increasing Accuracy

What is DGNSS?

R2 Ref R3 Ref

R2 R1 Ref

R3 Station
R1 R2

Correction GPS
Processor Receiver
Increasing Accuracy

What is PPP?
• Precise Point Positioning
• Apply calculated SV clock error correction to Y
broadcast ephemeris value

• Apply satellite orbit corrections to broadcast orbit

SV Position


• Ionospheric error is calculated using dual-

frequency mobile GPS hardware

• Tropospheric delays minimised using model plus

residual error is estimated as part of the
calculation process

• Measurement noise and multipath minimised

using carrier phase observable
Increasing Accuracy

What is PPP?
• Available Globally via x7 Broadcast

• Accuracy is not reference station


• Accuracy is 0.10m Horiz. &


• Must wait for system to settle to

achieve maximum accuracy -

• Dual frequency antennas mitigate

Increasing Accuracy

The elephant in the room….RTK GNSS

• Reference Station RTK

• Network RTK

• Accuracy is dependant on baseline length ~30km max…

• …or the network. The user must either be inside the network or within ~30km
of the closest reference station in the network

• Accuracy is 0.010m Horiz. & 0.020mVert.

Increasing Accuracy

Long Range RTK GNSS

• Long Range RTK (Trimble RTX


• Available in most of the world

• Not baseline or network dependent

• RTX is 0.040m Horiz. &

0.070mVert anywhere…On-shore
Positioning What?
Positioning What?

Uses of Surface Positioning –


• Dynamic Positioning

• ROV & Diving Support

• Precise Alongside Positioning

Positioning What?

Uses of Surface Positioning – DGNSS & PPP

• Construction Support

• ROV & Diving Support

• Cable & Pipeline Laying

• Template Installation

• Jacket & Topside Positioning

• Windfarm Installation Support

• Rig Moves

• Precise Alongside Positioning

Positioning What?

Uses of Surface Positioning –


• Survey

• Seabed Mapping & Charting

• Cable/Pipeline Route Surveys

• Debris Surveys

• Seismic Surveys
Positioning What?

Uses of Surface Positioning –

• Survey

• Seabed Mapping & Charting

• Mobile Laser Scanning

Questions ?

Simon Canning MSc MRICS AMRI

Dimensional Control Manager
Mob; +44 (0) 7753 310716