Sunday, March 18, 2012

U.S. Army Researching GPS Alternatives

This miniature atomic clock is one of many improvements the military is making to protect GPS signals as they research new options for PNT devices.

This miniature atomic clock is one of many improvements the military is making to protect GPS signals as they research new options for PNT devices.

The US Army is working on finding ways around the military’s increased reliance on GPS technology, specifically for warfighters. According to this article, the US Army Engineers are developing prototypes such as the Warfighter Integrated Navigation System (WINS) to serve as a backup for GPS. They are also looking into miniaturized atomic clocks to help GPS devices provide more accurate location and protect GPS units from spoofing. Of course, they haven’t released any specifics on what devices they have developed to replace GPS yet—if any—but it’s definitely something the government is looking into.

“The Army and [Defense Department] has been heavily reliant on GPS for positioning and for timing … There is a recognized threat out there that that may be denied, depending on where we’re going. And we may want to operate in places where [GPS] is not available. … Inside of buildings, underground, in caves, whatever. And so we’re looking at all kinds of technology that would allow you to still have the ability to get precise source of time and also the ability to know where you’re at, no matter where you’re at,” said John Willison, director of CERDEC’s Command, Power and Integration (CP&I) Directorate.

I doubt anyone is surprised by this research direction, but since military inventions usually move over to the commercial sector eventually, it’s exciting to think we might be seeing some new inventions replace or simply supplement GPS technology even further than WAAS and other currently available technology.

For a little sneak peak, check out this article about some new inventions that are currently in development on this front.

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