U-Blox modules enable AWS out of the box

  • December 1, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

Swiss firm U-Blox has announced two modules to enable Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud services for device and fleet management out of the box.

The Nora-W2 AWS IoT ExpressLink wifi module and the Sara-R5 AWS IoT ExpressLink cellular module for IoT connectivity are made to accelerate design-in and time to market.

For many businesses, connecting devices to the cloud remains challenging. Existing ways involve installing and maintaining dedicated software to manage connectivity on the devices. In addition, many legacy devices are too resource-constrained to accommodate the additional code required to enable cloud connectivity. To solve these problems, these two modules were selected by EDN for its gardening products.

“We were looking for a quick and effective way to enable robust cloud capabilities for our indoor growing platform,” said Ryan Woltz, CEO at EDN. “From past experience, we knew that doing so adds significant risk in terms of time, money and overall go-to-market execution. IoT device connectivity is complex, forcing our team to either outsource the development to a costly third party or allocate internal engineering resources, both of which can delay innovative features and increase our time to market.”

These modules helped the firm go from prototype to production in days, with secure and reliable cloud connectivity that scales.

“The U-Blox platform has become our strategic advantage, enabling us to focus on what we do best, creating innovative products that make nature accessible indoors,” said Woltz.

The modules are for small to medium-sized businesses targeting consumer and industrial markets.

Featuring a simplified and abstracted command set, the modules can be configured without requiring specialised competencies in IoT product development, networking and cryptography. Pre-provisioned to communicate with AWS IoT Core, they can connect to AWS securely, out of the box, with a few commands only and integrate with services in the AWS ecosystem.

The Nora-W2 AWS ExpressLink delivers Wifi 4 connectivity as well as Bluetooth Low Energy 5, including Bluetooth long range. The 10.4 by 14.3mm module has a dual-core central processing unit and is available with an antenna pin or a PCB antenna.

The Sara-R510 AWS IoT ExpressLink is a variant of the Sara-R510S LTE-M and NB-IoT module. The LPWA module consumes less than 1μA in power save mode, making it suitable for battery-powered applications. It is certified for multi-regional use.

“With the Nora-W2 and Sara-R5 IoT ExpressLink modules, wireless devices can be connected to the cloud in a snap,” said Andreas Thiel, executive director at U-Blox. “By simplifying access to cloud services, AWS IoT ExpressLink knocks down one of the key barriers standing in the way of newcomers to the IoT space: complexity.”

Shyam Krishnamoorthy, general manager for consumer IoT and connectivity at AWS, added: “The decision to work with U-Blox was a clear choice for us at AWS, as we knew that their high-quality modules targeting industrial and professional applications would complement our wide range of software and cloud services for IoT. Covering both wifi and LTE-M, the Nora-W2 and the Sara-R5 modules will address the critical need for IoT connectivity, and accelerate our customers’ time to market.”

First samples of the modules and evaluation kits will be available early next year.

U-Blox has announced a suite of products and feature additions that simplify access to reliable centimetre-level positioning for the industrial navigation and robotics markets.

The upgraded Zed-F9P high precision GNSS receiver module and the corresponding Neo-D9S and Neo-D9C GNSS correction data receivers provide flexibility in assembling scalable systems for their specific use case, including robotic lawnmowers, unmanned autonomous vehicles, and semi-automated or fully automated machinery.

The software-upgraded Zed-F9P-04B GNSS receiver is the first to support a secure Spartn GNSS correction data format. It further connects seamlessly to two new GNSS correction service receiver modules that stream correction data from communication satellites: The Neo-D9S will initially cover the European and US markets before rolling out to the other areas; the Neo-D9C will cover Japan.

The Neo-D9S receives correction data using the SSR Spartn data format over the satellite L-band channel. It uses cryptography to securely deliver PPP-RTK GNSS correction data, such as that offered by U-Blox’s PointPerfect service.

The Neo-D9C leverages the subscription-free CLAS centimetre-level augmentation service broadcast over mainland Japan provided by the Japanese QZSS constellation on the L6 band channel.

While the GNSS receivers are designed to work with most correction services on the market, pairing the Zed-F9P with the Neo-D9C or the Neo-D9S correction data receivers helps users save data transmission cost and operational efforts.

Additionally, the Zed-F9P-04B offers a feature called protection level, which increases the trust applications can place in its position output. By continuously outputting the upper bound of the maximum likely positioning error, referred to as the protection level, the receiver lets autonomous applications, such as UAVs, make efficient real-time path planning, increasing the quality of their operations.

In the case of robotic lawnmowers, the increased accuracy and reliability of the position will, for example, allow users to do away with boundary wires, which today are buried under the turf to delimit the mowing area. Furthermore, it will allow lawnmowers to cover a plot systematically based on a digital map, as opposed to the random mowing approach that is commonly used today.

“At U-Blox, we’ve long been focused on making high precision positioning technology more accessible for mass market applications,” said Alex Ngi, product manager at U-Blox. The Zed-F9P-04B together with the Neo-D9S and Neo-D9C GNSS correction data receivers all contribute to this goal by simplifying the design-in of secure high precision positioning, lowering its overall cost of ownership, and unifying the markets for GNSS correction services.

First samples of these products are available today, in professional and automotive grade. The correction data receivers will be available in automotive grade for the automotive markets.

With headquarters in Thalwil, Switzerland, U-Blox has offices in Europe, Asia and the USA.