Rokubun is finishing a project called URSULA, a turn-key project for the EU Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA). The scope of the project is the deployment of the User Space Virtual Laboratory at EUSPA facilities, an online demonstrator for GNSS services and earth observation data.

Rokubun has undertaken the development and validation of the cloud based tool implementing the User Space Virtual Laboratory and will install it in the EUSPA facilities in May 2023.

This project is based on the concept and experience of Rokubun’s cloud based GNSS processing service, JASON. The main idea is to provide a user-friendly experience that encourages users to get introduced to GNSS.

JASON service


URSULA is an initiative that aims to achieve three main objectives.

  1. The first goal is to offer a practical and user-friendly User Space Virtual Laboratory that facilitates learn-by-doing for people interested in developing navigation applications. This laboratory provides an intuitive user interface designed to encourage users to experiment with various configurations and use cases related to EGNSS technologies. This laboratory presents basic concepts of EGNSS technology, such as multi-constellation and multi-frequency, and demonstrates the advantages of these concepts.
  2. The second objective of URSULA is to establish a platform-agnostic cloud service capable of processing GNSS raw measurements from major receiver brands, including Septentrio and u-blox, as well as raw measurements stored in standard RINEX format. The cloud-based nature of the service allows it to be accessible from any device with an internet browser, guaranteeing access to the most up-to-date version of the service.
  3. Finally, URSULA aims to be modular and scalable by utilizing a microservice architecture that aggregates different services. This will enable future enhancements to the service and it will allow accommodating many simultaneous users.

Service description

URSULA is a cloud-based service that processes GNSS data to compute the position of a receiver. Users can access it via a web browser, without downloading any special software. The service will check the data's validity before processing and attempt to provide the best possible solution using a differential technique called Post-processing Kinematic (PPK). If PPK fails, the service will attempt a Precise Point Positioning (PPP) strategy by fetching necessary GNSS data products. If both PPK and PPP fail, the service will provide a Single Point Positioning (SPP) solution.

PPK combines user-uploaded GNSS data with nearby reference stations to cancel out common errors. If no nearby reference station data is available, URSULA will search for a nearby CORS and provide a coverage map in the GUI.

Ursula PPK processing results
URSULA PPK Processing results with Corine Land Cover as background map

URSULA's approach is based on key points such as expandability, scalability, traceability, and flexible development. The architecture enables easy integration of new services in the future, and the RESTful API allows for homogeneous interfacing. The approach also allows for orchestrating different components for multiple service instances, enabling load balance and simultaneous access. The Docker (container)-based architecture maximizes traceability by freezing software components, and virtualization facilitates development activities without requiring migration of tools or software to a specific platform or language.

Use Cases for Aerial Photogrammetry

It can be applied to any use case that requeries accuracy such as aerial photogrammetry. The case of drone photogrammetry has a wide range of applications across different industries:

  • In the energy industry, drones can be used to survey an area before drilling begins, allowing for a more accurate map of the terrain, identification of potential hazards, and better planning of the drilling process. For renewable energy, drone photogrammetry can be used to determine the suitability of rooftops for PV installations and to identify potential locations for solar farms.
  • In the construction industry, drones can create detailed maps of construction sites, providing a clear overview of the project and enhancing planning and coordination. This is especially valuable for larger projects, such as the construction of highways or industrial warehouses.
  • Finally, in the engineering industry, drones are useful in collecting data on structures such as bridges or dams. This data can be used to assess the condition of the structure, identify potential problems, and plan for maintenance or repair. Compared to traditional methods that used ground-based sensors, drone photogrammetry is faster, more efficient, and less expensive.