Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cornell Engineers Test GPS Spoofing Detector

A screenshot from a youtube video by the University of Austin showing how vulnerable marine craft are to GPS Spoofing

A screenshot from a youtube video by the University of Texas at Austin showing how vulnerable marine craft are to GPS Spoofing, and how spoofing works

GPS Spoofing—or the sending out of fake signals to control a course or heading—has been a concern of many navigators for several years now. Mark Psiaki, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, has been working towards a solution. Cornell University reports that Psiaki tested out his new spoofing detector and the results are quite encouraging.

While on a yacht, Psiaki and a graduate student Brady O’Hanlon, intentionally spoofed their own ship to change heading and veer off course and then attempted to use their detector to correct. The test was successful, and the Cornell detector was able to warn the ship’s bridge about the spoofing before they were 20 meters off course. Psiaki said eventually their goal is to not only detect spoofing, but also be able to read and communicate the true GPS signal to the effected ship/drone. It’s a lofty goal but then again, so was detecting GPS spoofing in realtime.

According to the Cornell article, the first GPS Spoofer was invented at Cornell by Todd Humphreys, Ph.D. ’08, now an assistant professor of the University of Texas as Austin. Humphreys tested his latest high tech spoofer on the same yacht last year and wrote a compelling article that really got public attention. Psiaki has received no less attention for his invention to protect against such measures.

The full report of Psiaki’s test, which was conducted last month, will be presented at the Institute of Navigation’s GNSS+ conference in September in Tampa, Fla.

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