5 Breakthrough DARPA Technologies Beyond GPS - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Government // Cybersecurity
News
8/7/2014
08:06 AM
Elena Malykhina
Elena Malykhina
Slideshows
50%
50%

5 Breakthrough DARPA Technologies Beyond GPS

Miniaturization, pulsed lasers, and quantum physics will bring new capabilities for positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) to the battlefield.
Previous
1 of 6
Next

(Image: DARPA)
(Image: DARPA)

When it comes to military operations, GPS is not always a reliable technology for positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT). Yet PNT capabilities are essential to targeting missles; navigation for land, sea, and air forces; and precision in military operations overall. That's why the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has created several programs to develop other approaches that offer more dependable and accurate PNT capabilities when GPS isn't working properly.

"We are putting new physics, new devices, and new algorithms on the job so our people and our systems can break free of their reliance on GPS," DARPA director Arati Prabhakar said in a statement.

The restricted nature of GPS is due to environmental factors such as solar storms, when signals are degraded, and is especially apparent to warfighters underground and underwater. GPS transmit levels from orbiting satellites are extremely low power and therefore weakened by the time they reach Earth. The signals can be obstructed by dense trees or buildings. They also cannot penetrate water, which makes GPS problematic for various military applications.

"More worrisome is that adversaries can jam signals. GPS continues to be vital, but its limitations in some environments could make it an Achilles' heel if warfighters rely on it as their sole source of PNT information," DARPA says on its program website. In fact, illegal devices that jam GPS signals are becoming increasingly available. Some simple gadgets that plug into 12-volt car receptacle connectors and cost as little as $30 can render GPS systems inoperable for miles, according to GPS systems provider NovAtel.

In its search for new technologies that offer an alternative to GPS, DARPA is particularly interested in systems that provide long-duration precision and accuracy in positioning and timing for global synchronization, secure communications, and cooperative effects. Such technologies include architectures for ad-hoc PNT networks, sensors, and signal processing designed to perform in adverse environments, and new architectures that enable communications, electronic warfare (EW), and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) systems to support PNT systems.

The agency needs affordable, compact, and flexible systems that can be used for a broad range of defense missions. For example, DARPA issued a solicitation in June seeking proposals for PNT systems that can operate independent of GPS, as part of its Spatial, Temporal, and Orientation Information in Contested Environments (STOIC) program.  

Explore our slideshow for five DARPA programs focused on developing next-generation PNT capabilities -- from adaptable navigation systems to extreme miniaturization for building smaller, lighter, and more powerful sensors.

Elena Malykhina began her career at The Wall Street Journal, and her writing has appeared in various news media outlets, including Scientific American, Newsday, and the Associated Press. For several years, she was the online editor at Brandweek and later Adweek, where she ... View Full Bio

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Previous
1 of 6
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
InformationWeek Is Getting an Upgrade!

Find out more about our plans to improve the look, functionality, and performance of the InformationWeek site in the coming months.

News
Becoming a Self-Taught Cybersecurity Pro
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  6/9/2021
News
Ancestry's DevOps Strategy to Control Its CI/CD Pipeline
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  6/4/2021
Slideshows
IT Leadership: 10 Ways to Unleash Enterprise Innovation
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  6/8/2021
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
Planning Your Digital Transformation Roadmap
Download this report to learn about the latest technologies and best practices or ensuring a successful transition from outdated business transformation tactics.
Slideshows
Flash Poll