A Big “+” to ION GNSS+ Conference: Understanding the Reliability of Satellite and Non-Satellite Based Location Technologies

The biggest navigation conference of the year, The Institute of Navigation’s GNSS+, came to a close last week, September 8-12. Why the “+”? To recognise that Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), although an autonomous technology, is rarely enough to assure the performance, resilience or trust that is needed for the huge range of today’s position, navigation and timing applications.

Image"There is no PNT [position, navigation & timing] capability currently available that can fully replicate GNSS," said David Turner from the US Department of State, echoing a general sentiment at the conference that GPS and the other global satellite systems are indispensable in today’s world. The huge advantages of satellite navigation mean it’s here to stay and there is nothing on the horizon to match the overall mix of benefits from GNSS.

Having said that, there are very few real-world applications that rely on GPS or even multi-GNSS signals alone. Hence “GNSS+”. For example, military aircraft and even UAVs rely on GNSS plus inertial sensors. Smartphone positioning relies on GNSS plus Wi-Fi plus multiple sensors and, in the future, other technologies such as Bluetooth and Near-Field Communications.

ImageCombining GPS or multi-GNSS with other sensors and technologies enables applications to take advantage of the huge benefits of satellite navigation without falling victim to the inherent vulnerabilities of weak signals from outer space.

As interferences and attacks to GPS increase, the technology to deal with these threats is staying one step ahead. This year’s GNSS+ conference included multiple papers on jammer detection and localization; signal and receiver techniques to flag or deal with threats; and improvements in complementary technologies such as dead reckoning and MEMS sensor algorithms.

Spirent sees its role as helping the industry to assess GPS vulnerabilies and evaluate strategies to deal with the risks and threats, whether intentional or unintentional. Spirent already has a range of products to enable testing in the presence of interference signals, sampling and playback of real events and the many augmentations to GPS. Just as the threats are set to increase, so are the range of Spirent’s solutions and test approaches.

I would love to hear your thoughts on ION GNSS+ conference and the issues around GNSS vulnerability. Join the conversation on LinkedIn.

To learn more about how Spirent is helping the industry assess GPS vulnerabilies please follow us on LinkedIn or opt-in to our communications and we’ll keep you posted.

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