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Complementary technology could provide solution to our GPS vulnerability

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Friday, March 11th 2011
| UK
Read More About: gps


Solution presented at today's GNSS Conference 2011 requires government backing to stimulate successful commercial application and counter GPS vulnerabilities say experts

The GNSS Interference, Detection and Monitoring Conference 2011 follows Tuesday's Royal Academy of Engineering report that set out the risks of GPS disruption from solar storms or illegal jamming and assessed what can be done to reduce impacts on society.

Solutions put forward included eLORAN (Enhanced Long Range Navigation), a revamped version of the 1950's LORAN terrestrial radio navigation systems used extensively by the US military which have been brought into the digital age and demonstrated as an ideal accompaniment to GPS. eLoran uses high-power, land-based transmitters, operating on low frequencies. The conference today saw researchers from the GAARDIAN project announce hugely encouraging results for the first ever trial of joint GPS/eLORAN receivers which tested their ability to detect anomalies caused by natural effects such as solar weather, and GNSS interference.

Bob Cockshott, Location & Timing Programme Director for the Digital Systems KTN and organiser of the Conference said, "This is a technology that must be central to future development of our location and timing systems. eLORAN is one of many viable solutions we have heard today that can deliver a more reliable navigation infrastructure but it is going to take government, academia and industry to come together to drive this forward."

George Shaw, from the General Lighthouse Authorities, a member of the GAARDIAN project, who have carried out their own eLORAN trials on maritime systems in the North Sea, believes the technology has shown it can deliver benefits for maritime navigation and has great potential for land use.

"This research has proved eLORAN is a viable accomplice to GPS and our transport, power, finance and communications infrastructures can be robustly safeguarded through its exploitation," said Shaw.

Charles Curry, Managing Director of Chronos Technology Ltd and leader of the GAARDIAN team also announced a follow up project - SENTINEL, which brings on board the Association of Chief Police Officers to look at the ability of GPS/eLORAN systems to mitigate the influence of illegal jammers. He believes that while industry interest in their research is growing, government has a major role to play in driving the process.

"We are now calling on government to confirm future funding for the UK's eLORAN transmission centre. Only then will industry have the guarantees it needs to drive commercial development," said Curry.

Speakers at the one day conference looked at a range of technologies and solutions that might feed into a more sustainable and reliable navigation infrastructure. These included:

  • The International Space Innovation Centre's Security and Resilience Unit - looking at innovation within our satellite infrastructure.
  • Professor Washington Ocheing, Imperial College London – asking whether money spent on multimillion pound GNSS integrity systems such as those for the Galileo project – maybe better spent developing RAIM (Receiver Autonomous Integrity Monitoring) systems inserted into the receiver
  • QinetiQ - reporting on the latest technologies they are testing on-board harrier jump-jets as well as new antenna technologies to protect the GPS signal.
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The GNSS Interference, Detection and Monitoring Conference 2011 is taking place at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington. The annual conferecne is in its second year. This years speakers include

  • US Department of Homeland Security
  • The Royal Academy of Engineering
  • Royal Institute of Navigation
  • International Space Innovation Centre
  • QinetiQ
  • Chronos Technology Ltd
  • Ofcom
  • Imperial College London
  • The General Lighthouse Authorities

About the Digital Systems Knowledge Transfer Network

Digital Systems KTN (DSKTN) which brings together expertise in scalable computing, location & timing and cyber security in order to drive the development of a digitally-enabled Britain. Combined innovation in these technologies has the power to solve emerging challenges that inhibit the UK 's development to a fully digital society in which data can be acquired and accessed, anytime and anywhere.

The Digital Systems KTN is the focal point for new ideas that create wealth in the new digital society; our events and networking activities are stimulating innovation between industry, government and academia. It is a Technology Strategy Board programme.

About the Royal Institute of Navigation

The Royal Institute of Navigation is the UK 's leading learned society covering all aspects of navigation as it applies on land, in the air, in the water and in space. The RIN aims to unite all those with a professional or personal interest in any aspect of navigation in one unique body, to further the development of navigation in every sphere, and to increase public awareness of the art and science of navigation.

About GAARDIAN

GAARDIAN is the acronym for "GNSS Availability, Accuracy, Reliability anD Integrity Assessment for Timing and Navigation" and the Consortium includes Chronos Technology, the University of Bath , General Lighthouse Authorities, BT, Ordnance Survey, National Physical Laboratory, and Imperial College London.

The project will create a mesh of remote PNT (Positioning, Navigation & Timing) interference detection & mitigation sensors (IDMs) which will be deployed in the vicinity of PNT dependent infrastructure & applications. These probes will monitor the integrity, reliability, continuity and accuracy of the locally received GPS (or other GNSS) and eLoran signals on a 24x7 basis and report back to a central server. The user will be alerted in real time to any anomalous behaviour in either of the two PNT signals.

About eLoran

eLoran is a low frequency (100kHz), high power, terrestrial radio navigation system currently operated in the UK as a prototype by the General Lighthouse Authorities. Operated in conjunction with other maritime authorities in Europe, eLoran could provide a back-up to GPS that is independent of and dissimilar and complementary to GNSS. eLoran, combined with GNSS, has the potential to ensure resilience of Position, Navigation and Timing (PNT) information for maritime Aids-to-Navigation for the benefit of all mariners. The benefits of resilient PNT could be extended to many other sectors, most importantly the protection of UK critical national infrastructure.

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