This project is officially called as Arctic Positioning Navigation and Timing Innovation Platform: Nordic Hub based on the SNOWBOX Infrastructure, ‘Arctic-PNT’ for short. It is funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) under the ESA Express Procurement Plus –EXPRO+ programme. The project duration is 24 months (September 2017 – August 2019), and will be executed by the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute (FGI). Within FGI, the project is managed by the Dept. of Navigation and Positioning and the Dept. of Geodesy and Geodynamics. FGI is a part of the National Land Survey of Finland (NLS). During the course of the project, there will be extensive collaboration with the Aurora SNOWBOX validation eco-system set-up in Finnish Lapland by the Finnish Transport Agency.

Introduction to the Project

The primary technical objective of the Arctic-PNT project is to identify and analyze the role of Aurora SNOWBOX as a key infrastructure in the Nordic Hub of the Arctic PNT Innovation Platform, especially with regards to positioning and navigation needs for autonomous driving in Arctic conditions. To be able to meet this objective key experiments related to PNT within the SNOWBOX test environment will be conducted. These experiments will provide real-world evidence on the capabilities, as well as challenges, of SNOWBOX as a PNT Innovation Platform and more generally as an Arctic test ecosystem for innovation in the field of autonomous driving.

Aurora SNOWBOX is located in northern Finland (please see the figure below) and primarily led by the Finnish Transport Agency. As SNOWBOX remains in the planning phase, there remains possibility to give recommendations as to the infrastructure required to provide world-class accurate positioning for autonomous driving applications in the harsh Arctic environment. As FGI is a member of the Aurora SNOWBOX network it is uniquely positioned to provide expertise on PNT technology, especially under the Arctic conditions.


Figure. Aurora SNOWBOX test and validation site in Finnish Lapland (and continuing into northern Norway). *Picture courtesy of Aurora SNOWBOX.

Utilizing the infrastructure of SNOWBOX, including the FinnRef GNSS reference stations around the test area (please see figure below), this project will collect data using specially equipped test vehicles, analyze the data using the in-house FGI-GSRx software receiver platform, and report on the positioning and navigation results. Included in the final analysis will be observations and experiences relevant to PNT testing in the harsh Arctic conditions.


Figure. GNSS reference stations of the FinnRef network around Finnish Lapland.

Collaboration with Norway

The Aurora Snowbox pilot project in Finland has a counterpart in Norway called Aurora Borealis. This test track runs between Skibotn to Kilpisjärvi. A three-year agreement for the Finnish-Norwegian cooperation project Aurora Borealis was signed in the Finnish city of Muonio in February of 2016. More information about the Norwegian E8 Borealis can be found here and here (in Norwegian).


This project is carried out under a programme of and funded by the European Space Agency. The view expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Space Agency.