Joint project Firefly


Mobile and Networked Positioning System for Aided Navigation in Urban Environments


Key Info

Basic Information

01.07.2021 to 30.06.2024



David Benz

Navigation Group Manager


+49 241 80-27516




Project logo firefly

The Firefly project is developing a mobile and networked positioning system to support future mobility in urban environments. In the near future, autonomous vehicles must be able to reliably and accurately estimate their own driving state and navigate automatically based on this. Highly available and trustworthy positioning and state estimation is essential for this. The main problem with conventional satellite-based navigation systems in urban environments is the limited reception of satellite signals because tall buildings block the "view" of the satellites. In addition, there is a lot of signal interference in such environments, which greatly affects reception quality. In order to compensate for the occlusion and loss of quality, the Firefly project is developing a new type of flying positioning system that will provide an additional source of signals to support the navigation of autonomous vehicles. The project will also investigate how the ubiquitous LTE signals can be used for more robust positioning.


Project Goals and Methods

Sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Economics Affairs and Climate Action

The aim of the project is to develop a mobile positioning system that can be seamlessly integrated with conventional satellite-based navigation systems, enabling highly accurate, highly available and integrated self-localization in urban environments. The system will consist of two components: the transmitter, which emulates a satellite in orbit, and the receiver, which can receive and process data from the Firefly transmitter in addition to conventional navigation data. In principle, the transmitter unit can be installed statically, e.g. on lampposts or other infrastructure elements, but in the future it can also be designed as a mobile, flying transmission platform. In addition, the project will investigate how signals from LTE stations can be used in the same navigation system for robust positioning and state estimation. The receiver unit will be equipped with a Software Defined Radio (SDR) capable of receiving all signals from satellites, Firefly transmitters and LTE stations. The signals received by the SDR are then integrated and fused into a navigation filter to estimate vehicle states. This should enable consistent, reliable and centimetre-accurate positioning for autonomous systems in urban areas. For the pre-development and proof-of-concept study, the entire design will first be evaluated in a hardware-in-the-loop simulation. Finally, the entire test platform will be demonstrated and evaluated on the campus of the University of the Federal Armed Forces in Munich, where a suitable city-like test environment is available.


Innovations and Perspectives

Skyscrapers with LTE/5G mast on the roof; in front of it a rover vehicle; above the vehicle the streetlights and a flying firefly beaming signals; in the sky a satellite Copyright: © University of the Bundeswehr Munich

The system to be developed in the "Firefly" project represents a novel, robust navigation concept specifically for localization in challenging urban environments. The system offers the possibility to significantly extend the state of the art for satellite-based navigation systems. A navigation system that integrates signals from LTE stations and additional mobile transmission units in addition to GNSS signals is novel and requires extensive research. It is important to ensure that all influences and uncertainties that occur in urban areas are taken into account. Furthermore, the important integrity monitoring of LTE and pseudolite signals in urban environments is still a marginal area of current research. The novel positioning system to be developed in this project includes both infrastructure elements and receiver enhancements to be carried in vehicles.

Project Partners