Kassas and students win four best paper presentation awards

Posted: November 28, 2022
Professor Kassas and 2 students
Professor Kassas (right) with two of his students

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Zak Kassas and his students received four best paper presentation awards at the Institute of Navigation Global Navigation Satellite Systems Conference (ION GNSS+), held in Denver, Colorado in September.

“It is fulfilling to see our results get recognized by the scientific community,” said Kassas. “ION GNSS+ is the largest annual positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) conference, and the sessions had papers from highly respected research groups. Aside from these awards, it was particularly rewarding to witness several papers and industrial products at the conference building on our Autonomous Systems Perception, Intelligence, and Navigation (ASPIN) Laboratory’s  findings from the past few years.”

Kassas and PhD student Mohammad Neinavaie co-authored a paper titled, “Joint detection and tracking of unknown beacons for navigation with 5G signals and beyond”. The paper established the theoretical foundations of novel framework capable of jointly detecting and tracking unknown beacons of terrestrial signals. Experimental results demonstrated the efficacy of the established theory, showing an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and a ground vehicle successfully detecting unknown signals in the environment, from cellular 4G and 5G towers, tracking the signals and navigating the vehicles with these signals.

Blind receiver for LEO beacon estimation with application to UAV carrier phase differential navigation,”co-authored by Kassas and his PhD student Sharbel Kozhaya, proposed an innovative receiver design that can blindly estimate unknown signals transmitted by low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites. Experimental results showed successful blind acquisition and tracking of Orbcomm LEO satellites, which enabled a UAV to navigate with these signals.

 “Protecting the skies: GNSS-less aircraft navigation with terrestrial cellular signals of opportunity,” was co-authored by Kassas, his past student and his collaborators from the U.S. Air Force. It showcased revolutionary results from a joint experiment conducted by Kassas’ ASPIN Laboratory and the U.S. Air Force. The results demonstrated the tremendous promise of cellular signals as a reliable back to GPS for high-altitude aircraft navigation. ASPIN’s state-of-the-art cognitive software-defined receivers showed that hundreds of cellular signals can be acquired and tracked at high altitudes, more than 23,000 ft above ground level, and from cellular towers more than 100 km away. The paper also showed meter-level accurate aircraft navigation with only cellular signals over trajectories exceeding 50 km.

 “Observability analysis of opportunistic receiver localization with LEO satellite pseudorange measurements,” was co-authored by Kassas and a past student. It analyzed the observability of receiver localization with signals from a single LEO satellite. Experimental results showed a receiver localizing itself with signals from a single Starlink LEO satellite and a single Orbcomm LEO satellite. The results demonstrated the theoretical predictions of the paper’s observability analysis.