Rokubun's real-time demonstration shows the potential of OSNMA for authenticating drone positioning, which opens the door for cracking down illegal fishing activities, among other applications.

Drone surveillance has become increasingly popular for various applications, such as border patrol, disaster response, and law enforcement. However, there is a growing concern about the authenticity and integrity of the images captured by drones. In many cases, it is crucial to ensure that the images are original and have not been altered. This is where image geolocation and time authentication comes in.

By authenticating the geolocation of the drone-captured images and digitally signing them in real-time, it is possible to shield the authenticity and integrity of the data captured by the drone. This helps to enhance the overall quality and accuracy of drone surveillance systems, and ensures that the data collected is reliable and trustworthy.

Galileo's OSNMA validates real-time drone positioning

Last month, Rokubun, along with the European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA), organized a demonstration of the use case of drone surveillance in the BCN Drone Center, a training and testing drone facility close to Barcelona. The purpose of this demonstration was to showcase a technology based on Galileo OSNMA (Open Service Navigation Message Authentication) able to provide unprejudiced drone captured images.

The technology developed for this demonstration is able to use Galileo OSNMA in combination with on-board real time digital signature to deliver genuine images for drone surveillance applications. In this demonstration, Rokubun utilized a drone equipped with a camera capturing periodic images, together with a GNSS receiver. The GNSS receiver was a MEDEA, a dual frequency receiver developed by Rokubun, which embedded the software library SPEAR (Satellite Positioning Engine for Accurate Real-Time Navigation) for OSNMA decoding.

Figure 1. The drone with MEDEA during the demonstration

SPEAR is designed to provide precise and reliable navigation, allowing devices to determine their location within centimeters, and can be compiled into any hardware platform that integrates an applications processor.

The SPEAR library boasts several useful modules, including a Galileo OSNMA client that can decode the Authentication Navigation Message (OSNMA) from Galileo. This particular module is used to authenticate the geolocation of drone-captured images in real-time.  

The process begins with the MEDEA GNSS receiver, which parses the image as soon as it's captured by the drone's camera. The receiver then incorporates the decoded OSNMA, location and timing information into the image's metadata, along with a digital signature that prevents tampering with the image's data in the future. The result of this process is a collection of genuine images that are suitable for use in drone surveillance applications.

Figure 2. Demonstration of OSNMA for drone survelliance step by step

Although the Navigation Message Authentication (NMA) service from Galileo is not expected to be fully operational until later in 2023, it is currently undergoing validation. In preparation for its launch, Rokubun has been working closely with EUSPA to develop and roll out navigation solutions that are OSNMA ready.

Despite the service not being fully operational yet, Rokubun is already at the forefront of OSNMA technology, ensuring that its navigation solutions are future-proof and equipped to handle the advanced authentication capabilities of the Galileo NMA service, that can be applied to a wide range of applications

Figure 3. Final track record of the drone

The opportunity to fight the illegal phising in Europe

The Galileo Open Service Navigation Message Authentication (OSNMA) presents a promising solution to address the issue of illegal fishing activities in European waters. Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) has been identified as a significant threat to the sustainable exploitation of living aquatic resources and poses a risk to the marine environment and biodiversity.

The EU has adopted a zero-tolerance policy towards IUU fishing as part of its commitment to the European Green Deal and the UN Sustainable Development Goal. With IUU fishing estimated to have a global value of between 10,000 and 20,000 billion euros annually, or at least 15% of global fish catches, the benefits of OSNMA could be a game-changer in promoting the EU's common fisheries policy and international efforts to improve ocean governance. The European Fisheries Control Agency, in collaboration with EUSPA, is exploring the use of OSNMA to validate the position of suspicious vessels and help identify and prevent illegal fishing activities in the region.

OSNMA is a game-changer for safety, security, and economic implications of Location-Based Services

Using photographs to locate vessels can be a powerful tool in the fight against illegal fishing. However, the benefits of the OSNMA service extend beyond this application, as it can provide crucial authentication for other scenarios.

The risks of spoofing pose a significant threat, especially for safety and security-focused applications that have legal and economic implications, such as Micro-Mobility, Traffic Management of UAVs, or cadastral surveying.

Cadastral surveying, for example, relies on GNSS positioning to determine land coordinates that can later be used for taxation purposes. Hence, precise and authentic positioning is crucial. With the added trust provided by OSNMA, industries such as Cadastral surveying can scale up and increase their operational efficiency.

Rokubun is a deep-tech company that develops innovative navigation technologies, oriented to fulfilling a new demand for ubiquitous, accurate, and scalable geolocation technologies.

SPEAR (Satellite Positioning Engine for Accurate Real-Time Navigation) is a software library for accurate and robust navigation that can enhance the location of the devices to the range of centimetres. SPEAR can work on any platform (platform-agnostic) and is designed to get the best navigation performance of mass-market or industrial devices, such as smartphones, cars, or drones.