BAE Systems unveils potential alternative to GPS

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Published: July 11, 2012

NAVSOP. Courtesy, BAE Systems

BAE Systems has unveiled research into a new positioning system that could potentially provide an alternative to satellite-based systems such as GPS.

Known as Navigation via Signals of Opportunity (NAVSOP), the new system exploits existing transmissions such as Wi-Fi, TV, radio and mobile phone signals, to calculate the user’s location to within a few meters.

BAE Systems believes that by exploiting such a wide range of signals NAVSOP is resistant to hostile interference such as jamming (GPS relies on a specific and relatively weak satellite signal that is vulnerable to disruption) and spoofing (where a bogus signal tricks a device into misidentifying its location). The new system can learn from signals that are initially unidentified to build an ever more accurate and reliable fix on its location. Even the signals from GPS jammers can be exploited to aid navigation under certain conditions.

“The real beauty of NAVSOP is that the infrastructure required to make it work is already in place,” BAE Systems said in a statement. “There is no need to build costly networks of transmitters and the hardware behind the system is already commercially available. Another benefit is that it can be integrated into existing positioning devices to provide superior performance to GPS.”

It can also function in places where GPS is unable to reach, such as dense urban areas, deep inside buildings, and in the most remote parts of the world, such as the Arctic, by picking up signals that include Low-Earth-Orbit satellites and other civilian signals.

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