NovAtel completed this process with the FAA and worked with them to develop three generations of the WAAS-certified GNSS receiver, an extremely accurate navigation system made up of the equipment and software that augments the Department of Defense (DoD) GPS Standard Positioning Service.
The system, which incorporates four ground reference networks, provides a Signal-In-Space (SIS) to WAAS users that supports all phases of flight. The latest generation, NovAtel’s WAAS G-III receiver, which the FAA began fielding in 2015, adds the ability to process the GPS L1C, L2C, and L5 signals, as well as all current and planned GPS civil signals plus L2 semi-codeless.
Auld was involved in developing the second and third generations of the WAAS receiver and learned the difficulties associated with taking a standard commercial product and turning it into a safety-certified solution. The team had to go back to basic principles and ask itself various safety-related questions to confirm the engineers were on the right track and developing a product that would meet all of the strict standards.
This often limits how engineers can use or implement a product, Auld said, because the objective is to be as deterministic as possible in the product’s performance. But it can also drive innovation because it forces the team to figure out a new way of doing things.
“Just because you did it one way for several years doesn’t matter. You have to think about how to solve the problem a little differently because you can’t do it that way anymore,” Auld said. “And that’s a lot of work.”