NextNav raises $ 120 million to implement its indoor positioning technology to find people in skyscrapers – TechCrunch

NextNav LLC has raised $ 120 million in capital and debt to commercially implement an indoor positioning system that can determine the location of a device, including on which floor it is, without GPS .

The company has developed what it calls a Metropolitan Beacon System, which can find the location of devices such as smartphones, drones, IoT products or even autonomous vehicles in indoor and urban areas where GPS or other satellite location signals cannot be received from reliable way. Anyone who tries to use their phone to call an Uber o Lyft In the Chicago Loop area you have probably experienced irregular GPS signals.

The MBS infrastructure is essentially bolted to cell towers. The positioning system uses a cellular signal, not a line of sight signal from satellites as GPS does. The system focuses on determining the “altitude” of a device, CEO and co-founder Ganesh Pattabiraman told TechCrunch.

The GPS can provide the horizontal position of a smartphone or IoT device. And Wi-Fi and Bluetooth can intervene to provide that horizontal positioning indoors. NextNav says that its MBS has added a vertical or “Z dimension” to the positioning system. This means that the MBS can determine the floor level of a device in a multi-story building in less than 3 meters.

It is the type of system that can provide emergency services with critical information, such as the number of people located in a particular flat. It is this specific use case in which NextNav is betting. Last year, the Federal Communication Commission issued new 911 emergency requirements for wireless operators that demands the ability to determine the vertical position of the devices to help responders find people in multi-story buildings.

Today, the MBS is located in the Bay Area and Washington D.C. The company plans to use this new capital injection to expand its network to the 50 largest markets in the US. UU., In part to take advantage of the new FCC requirement.

The technology has other applications. For example, this so-called Z dimension could be useful for locating drones. Last year, NASA said it will use NextNav’s MBS network as part of its City Environment for scope testing of autonomous navigation facilities integrated at its Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

The round was led by funds managed by affiliates of Fortress Investment Group . Existing investors Columbia Capital, Future Fund, Telcom Ventures, funds managed by Goldman Sachs Asset Management, NEA and Oak Investment Partners also participated.

XM satellite radio Founder Gary Parsons is executive president of the company based in Sunnyvale, California.

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