IIT-Bombay develops Dhruva
IIT-Bombay has developed a homegrown receiver chip - Dhruva – that can be used in smartphones and navigation devices to find locations and routes within the country. Dhruva will receive signals from India’s NAVIC group of navigation satellites as well as the US Global Positioning System-based satellites to determine these accurately under all weather conditions. The radio frequency receiver chip was designed in 18 months by students and researchers at IIT Bombay. It can receive in multiple frequency bands and handle weak signals.
- It can be converted into digital bits and processed by any standard digital signal processor (DSP) to determine one’s location precisely.
- There were many design challenges to make the receiver work under all environmental conditions. We came up with patentable innovations, set up our internal review structure so that no bug passes through.
- India has had a fleet of navigational satellites for a few years, but there have been no commercial receivers so far that could receive its signals in multiple frequencies.
- The nine satellites under NAVIC were built as an alternative to the GPS, as part of India’s space agency’s efforts to make the navigation system accessible for commercial applications.
- The Dhruva project was funded by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), with SAMEER (Society for Applied Microwave Electronics Engineering and Research) as the nodal agency.
- The research team also interfaced with the Space Applications Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation.
- Getting a production-worthy RF chip designed in 18 months is an outstanding achievement for the students. Typically, in the industry setting, it takes about nine months to take a chip from conception to tape-out.
- NAVIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation) is India’s geo-positioning system designed by ISRO to provide accurate positioning within the country.
- NAVIC satellites were sent to orbit a few years ago, but no commercial 'receiver' chip was available to receive signals from the satellites.
- Dhruva will help receive and clean up the signals received from NAVIC, which are 36,000 km above from the earth’s surface.
- Since the satellites are far away from the Earth, the received signals are extremely weak compared to the ambient noise floor.
- This chip can clean up all the interfering signals, sifting out the weak desired navigation signals, according to IIT Bombay.
- The note added that these signals are further amplified by approximately 400,000 times before converting to digital bits using on-chip Analog-to-Digital Converters (ADCs).