, Volume 84, Issue 7, pp 433-447,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 02 Apr 2010

Integer least-squares theory for the GNSS compass

Abstract

Global navigation satellite system (GNSS) carrier phase integer ambiguity resolution is the key to high-precision positioning and attitude determination. In this contribution, we develop new integer least-squares (ILS) theory for the GNSS compass model, together with efficient integer search strategies. It extends current unconstrained ILS theory to the nonlinearly constrained case, an extension that is particularly suited for precise attitude determination. As opposed to current practice, our method does proper justice to the a priori given information. The nonlinear baseline constraint is fully integrated into the ambiguity objective function, thereby receiving a proper weighting in its minimization and providing guidance for the integer search. Different search strategies are developed to compute exact and approximate solutions of the nonlinear constrained ILS problem. Their applicability depends on the strength of the GNSS model and on the length of the baseline. Two of the presented search strategies, a global and a local one, are based on the use of an ellipsoidal search space. This has the advantage that standard methods can be applied. The global ellipsoidal search strategy is applicable to GNSS models of sufficient strength, while the local ellipsoidal search strategy is applicable to models for which the baseline lengths are not too small. We also develop search strategies for the most challenging case, namely when the curvature of the non-ellipsoidal ambiguity search space needs to be taken into account. Two such strategies are presented, an approximate one and a rigorous, somewhat more complex, one. The approximate one is applicable when the fixed baseline variance matrix is close to diagonal. Both methods make use of a search and shrink strategy. The rigorous solution is efficiently obtained by means of a search and shrink strategy that uses non-quadratic, but easy-to-evaluate, bounding functions of the ambiguity objective function. The theory presented is generally valid and it is not restricted to any particular GNSS or combination of GNSSs. Its general applicability also applies to the measurement scenarios (e.g. single-epoch vs. multi-epoch, or single-frequency vs. multi-frequency). In particular it is applicable to the most challenging case of unaided, single frequency, single epoch GNSS attitude determination. The success rate performance of the different methods is also illustrated.