SNAP was relaunched in 2014 as a collaborative research initiative between the Schools of Civil & Environmental Engineering and Electrical Engineering & Telecommunications, combining expertise in geodesy, surveying & geospatial science, with that of electronics, signal processing and space engineering from the Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research.

Since the 1960s one of the UNSW’s research strengths has been the field of Geodesy, however, today’s research can best be described as encompassing the topics of: precise positioning techniques and applications, navigation technologies and algorithms, and “earth observation” in the widest meaning of the word. The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) system that has since the early 1980s revolutionised Geodesy, Surveying and Navigation. GPS research at UNSW commenced in 1984. Since then important research contributions were made to the development of high accuracy positioning algorithms suitable for Surveying and Geodesy applications. In the early 1990s all GPS-related research was organised under the Satellite Navigation and Positioning (SNAP) group, and was expanded to encompass Navigation technology and applications.

Navigation – although one of the oldest of the applied sciences– nowadays is critical to the functioning of a modern society. The geosciences such as Geodesy, the engineering field of Surveying, and the Geospatial disciplines all use PNT technologies. Professional navigators use a range of technologies for aircraft, marine and land transport. However, as a result of the revolution wrought by the introduction of GPS (and other Global Navigation Satellite Systems – GNSS), positioning and navigation has increasingly become a critical technology for machine automation, emergency services, military operations, rapid mapping, transport management, and personal mobility, to name but a few PNT applications.

Since 2004 SNAP Lab research has expanded to include GPS/GNSS receiver design, data and signal processing algorithms, inertial navigation technologies and data fusion algorithms, other wireless positioning systems including those based on telecommunications (mobile telephony, WiFi, BlueTooth, RFID) as well as dedicated terrestrial ranging systems such as “Locata”, and their optimal integration to support a range of applications from farm machinery automation, robotics, precise navigation, rapid mapping and personal navigation.

Today the SNAP Lab is Australia’s premier academic research group working in the field of wireless, ground and satellite positioning and navigation. We can point to several notable achievements and unique characteristics of the SNAP Lab:

  • Pioneering research since the 1980s into GPS algorithms for precise positioning over long baselines, real-time carrier phase-based positioning, and network-based techniques.
  • Development of a fully functional FPGA-based GNSS receiver known as “Namuru”, that is today the basis of research into future GNSS for a wide range of ground and spaceborne applications.
  • Unique signal processing expertise for multipath analysis, RF interference detection and self-interference mitigation, signal strength measurement, GNSS-reflectometry, and structural deformation monitoring.
  • Operating several permanent GNSS receivers, including a Galileo tracking receiver as part of the global CONGO network, as well as a reference receiver station in the CORSnet-NSW.
  • Have assisted over the last decade the development of an innovative Australian invention known as “Locata”.
  • Addressing the requirements for indoor, UAV and vehicle-to-vehicle positioning, by conducting research into the use of a variety of technologies, singly or in multi-sensor integrated systems – including mobile phone signals, WiFi, assisted-GNSS, vision and inertial sensors.
  • More Fellows of Institutes of Navigation than all other Australian groups combined.
  • Two presidencies of the International Association of Geodesy (IAG), and five (past & current) staff having been made Fellows of the IAG.
  • More than 1200 archived papers on the SNAP website, the majority on positioning and navigation themes, with >2000 articles listed since 1993.
  • Second most successful navigation research group in the world (after the Department of Geomatics Engineering, University of Calgary, Canada), with 31 student prize winners of the U.S. Institute of Navigation GPS/GNSS annual conferences since 1989.
  • In 1993 inaugurated (and continue to organise) the biennial national GPS/GNSS/ Positioning & Navigation conference.