Feasibility to integrate low-cost MEMS accelerometers and GNSS receivers

Significance Statement

Global Navigation Satellite System is considered as the only reliable source of offering positioning information in the time systems and global references. These features are important for ensuring some consistency in the information acquired at monitoring stations. A variometric approach termed as VADASE has been implemented to provide real-time displacement and velocity estimates from dual and single frequency stand-alone receivers.

Although the geodetic dual frequency Global Positioning System receiver has been implemented in experiments, it has been found that such dual frequency receivers and low-cost single frequency ones, function in a similar fashion when it comes to velocity approximation with VADASE as well as standard methods. Therefore, the outcomes can be extended to any GPS receiver whether dual or single frequency.

Global Navigation Satellite System suffers some setbacks. These include, noise, sky visibility observable correlation, and limited frequency acquisition, and this may be compensated by accelerometer sensors capability. Therefore, low-cost Micro Electro-Mechanical System accelerometers appear to be a potential alternative to the high-cost accelerometer sensors, which have been so far adopted for monitoring applications.

When it comes to Global positioning system and Micro Electro-Mechanical System integration the Global Navigation Satellite System offers displacements as well as velocities in a global reference time. On the other hand, Micro Electro-Mechanical System offers accelerations in a sensor-fixed system that may have some variation because of movements of the monitored object. Elisa Benedetti and Mattia Crespi at University of Rome ‘‘La Sapienza” and in collaboration with Athanasios Dermanis at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki investigated the feasibility of integrating the benefits of Micro Electro-Mechanical System accelerometers and Global Navigation Satellite Systems with an eye on the low-cost Global Navigation Satellite System receivers, in a bid to enhance the diffusion of low-cost monitoring. Their work is now published in Advances in Space Research.

The authors set up the merging methodology at the level of combination of kinematics results i.e. displacements and velocities generated from two sensors, where the observations were processed separately. Global Positioning System results were processed implementing the VADASE and its improved version approach in a bid to obtain velocities and displacements respectively. Micro Electro-Mechanical System results i.e. accelerations, were integrated numerically to get displacements and velocities as well.

Difference in reference and time systems, measurement rate and epochs for the two sensors were a few issues faced with when trying to combine the kinematic results. Therefore, the authors developed and tested an approach that was helpful in transforming into a unique reference and time system the results from the Micro Electro-Mechanical System and Global Positioning System. However, the method was limited to time-dependent arrangement of the Micro Electro-Mechanical System with respect to the GPS.

The authors then proposed a data fusion method pegged on Discrete Fourier Transformation and cubic splines interpolation for displacements as well as velocities. The derived solutions of Micro Electro-Mechanical System and Global Positioning System were initially separated by a rectangular filter in spectral domain, and then combined via a cubic spline interpolation.

The method was applied to experimental results and accuracies of about 5 mm for booth slow and fast displacements and 2mm/s for velocities were evaluated. The outcomes give way to an appealing and powerful implementation of low-cost single frequency receivers necessary for monitoring. The use of Micro Electro-Mechanical System- accelerometers present a powerful tool for enhancing Global Navigation Satellite System potentials for structural as well as ground investigations and monitoring.

About The Author

Mattia Crespi

Born in Milan, December 6, 1963. He received his degree in Civil Engineering Summa cum Laude in 1987 at Politecnico di Milano and his PhD in Geodesy and Surveying in 1992 at Politecnico di Torino. He is Professor of Positioning and Geomatics at the University of Rome “La Sapienza” since 2005 and Senior Fellows of the Sapienza School for Advanced Studies since 2015; at Sapienza he is also serving as member of the PhD Governing Board and representative within the Council for Doctoral Education of the European University Association.

He is author and co-author of more than 250 publications; his recent investigation topics are: high-rate GNSS for seismology and ionospheric sounding; GNSS meteorological applications; ground and infrastructures deformations control and modeling; 3D objects and terrain modeling; geomatics for archaeology and for glaciology.

Mattia Crespi was recipient of the following awards: DLR Special Topic Prize and Audience Award of the European Satellite Navigation Competition in 2010; Success Story of the European Satellite Navigation Competition in 2012; ESA Certificate for Galileo In-Orbit-Validation in 2014.

He is the coordinator of the Positioning and Image Analysis Group at the Geodesy and Geomatics Division, who have received more than 20 national and international awards.

He is chair/co-chairman of study groups within the European Association of Remote Sensing Laboratories (EARSeL) and the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS), member of EARSeL Bureau as treasurer and vice-president of the Inter-Commission Committee on Theory of the  International Association of Geodesy (IAG); he is also the Italian Correspondent within IAG Council.

Mattia Crespi, finally, is co-inventor of two patents, supported by the University of Rome “La Sapienza”, in the frame of GNSS positioning (VADASE, 2010) and high resolution optical and SAR satellite imagery processing (matching strategy, 2013).

About The Author

Athanasios Dermanis is Professor Emeritus, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. He holds a Master degree in Surveying Engineering from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (1972) and a PhD in Geodetic Sciences from the Ohio State University (1976), in collaboration with the Department of Mathematics. After his military service at the Surveying Division of the Greek Air Force (1977) and a Postoctoral Fellowship of the Alexander Von Humboldt Foundation at the Universitat der Bundeswerk in Munich (1978) he has joined the Department of the Geodesy and Surveying of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, first as a Visiting Lecturer (1980-1982) and next as a Full Professor (1982-2015).

He has taught as Visiting Professor at the University of Thessaly and the Technical University of Crete, in Greece, the Ibaraki University in Japan, the University of Wuhan in China, the University of Calgary, the Politecnico di Milano and the University of Rome, on various subjects (geodesy, surveying, remote sensing, photogrammetry, geostatistics, etc.) He is a Fellow (1991) of the International Association of Geodesy (IAG), where he has participated in numerous study groups, has been the Chairman of five of them, the last three (2003-2015) on the theory of Reference Systems.

He has served as editor in the Bulletin Geodesique, Manuscripta Geodaetica and the Journal of Geodesy (2007-2015), he has organized two IAG Summer Schools on Geomatics (1994) and Reference Systems (2010) and has served as vice-President of the IAG Inter-Commission Committee on Theory. He is the author or co-author of nine textbooks in Greek, one textbook in Italian, the co-editor of three IAG sponsored volumes, and has published about 100 scientific publications. While his research covers a wide range of topics, it concentrates on three items: theory of estimation and prediction, geodetic methods for crustal deformation and theory of reference systems.

About The Author

Elisa Benedetti is born in Rome (Italy) in 1985. She holds a M.Sc. degree in Environmental Engineering cum Laude from the University of Rome “La Sapienza” (2011) with a thesis about the first application of original algorithms for GPS-based real-time structural monitoring. She received the “Antonio Ventura” acknowledgment from “Sapienza Foundation” for the best thesis in Civil and Environmental Engineering (2013).

She achieved a PhD “Doctor Europaeus” in Infrastructures and Transports by the Geodesy and Geomatics Division of the University of Rome “La Sapienza” in 2015. During the doctoral period she carried on an investigation focused on the development of new strategies for structures and ground monitoring in real-time based on GNSS and MEMS accelerometers integration. Along with this main topic, she concentrated her research activities on GNSS Seismology, landslides monitoring and indoor positioning. Such topics are also the main subjects of past and current Elisa’s scientific and technical publications as well as projects and collaborations. She is a member of the High-rate GNSS Joint Study Group (2016-today) of Intercommission Committee on Theory (ICCT) of the International Association of Geodesy (IAG).

Elisa is working (2015-today) as Senior Navigation Engineer at NSL (Nottingham, UK) where she is the technical leader of the GNSS positioning team. She is currently involved in the development of products and services for land and infrastructure monitoring based on the exploitation of smart and cost-effective GNSS devices equipped with multiple sensors (i.e. IMU) and wireless communication options.


Elisa Benedetti, Athanasios Dermanis, and Mattia Crespi. On the feasibility to integrate low-cost MEMS accelerometers and GNSS receivers. Advances in Space Research, volume 59 (2017), pages 2764–2778.

Go To Advances in Space Research

Additional references

Benedetti, E., Branzanti, M., Biagi, L., Colosimo, G., Mazzoni, A., Crespi, M., 2014a. GNSS seismology for the 2012 Mw = 6.1 Emilia earthquake: exploiting the VADASE algorithm. Seismol. Res. Lett. 85 (i. 3), 649–656.

Benedetti, E., Branzanti, M., Colosimo, G., Mazzoni, A., Crespi, M., 2014b. Integration of low-cost GPS receivers and MEMS-accelerometers: experiments and potentiality of a new approach for real-time structural monitoring. In: ENC – GNSS 2014 Proceedings (Session D5) (online only).

Benedetti, E., Branzanti, M., Colosimo, G., Mazzoni, A., Crespi, M., 2014c. VADASE: state of the art and new developments of a third way to GNSS seismology. International Association of Geodesy Symposia, vol. 142, pp. 59–66.

Benedetti, E., 2015. New Strategies for Structures and Ground Monitoring in Real-time Based on GNSS and MEMS Accelerometers Integration (PhD Thesis). University of Rome ‘‘La Sapienza”, Rome.

Benedetti, E., Ravanelli, R., Moroni, M., Nascetti, A., Crespi, M., 2016. Exploiting performance of different low-cost sensors for small amplitude oscillatory motion monitoring: preliminary comparisons in view of possible integration. J. Sensors 2016, 10, article ID 7490870.

Branzanti, M., Benedetti, E., Colosimo, G., Mazzoni, A., Crespi, M., 2014. Real-time monitoring of fast displacements with VADASE: new applications and challenges with Galileo. In: ENC – GNSS 2014 Proceedings (Session C7) (online only).

Branzanti, M., Colosimo, G., Crespi, M., Mazzoni, A., 2013. GPS near- real-time coseismic displacements for the great Tohoku-oki earth- quake. IEEE Geosci. Remote Sens. Lett. 10 (2), 372–376.

Colosimo, G., Crespi, M., Mazzoni, A., 2011. Real-time GPS seismology with a stand-alone receiver: a preliminary feasibility demonstration. J. Geophys. Res.: Solid Earth (1978–2012) 116 (B11).

Colosimo, G., 2013. VADASE: A Brand New Approach to Real-time GNSS Seismology. Lambert Academic Publishing AG & Co KG, Saarbrucken, Germany.