Updated: Sep 23, 2022
Aviation has become directly dependent on GNSS technology (GPS among others) for safe and efficient navigation across atmosphere and terrain. Unmanned systems are especially dependent on secure GNSS. Both civil and defence uses of unmanned systems are at significant, direct risk of attack by GNSS denial or spoofing, in contexts such as search and rescue, border patrol or military strikes.
It is now easier for malicious actors across a considerable scale, from local criminals to rogue states, to purposely jam or spoof GNSS signals. Jamming technology can be intentionally or unintentionally broadcast on the same frequency as GPS which therefore renders it susceptible to disruption. As a result, the receiver cannot pick up information from the satellites. This displays a growing vulnerability for un/manned aircraft. This threat will only grow in commonality and risk without change to the security of navigation systems used. In order to protect the safety and performance of manned and unmanned navigation, alternative methods which offer greater reliability must be acquired.
Modern solutions have seen the incorporation of various sensors onboard navigation systems, to supply enhanced support where GNSS cannot safely operate on its own. This helps reduce the critical dependency on GNSS, which is beginning to hamper the effectiveness of operations in both civilian and military contexts.
Alternatives to GNSS, many of which predates the use of satellites, include:
Direct radio navigation using ground or airborne transmitters in place of satellites.
Celestial navigation giving the positioning of a vehicle or vessel on land, in the air or at sea, using stars and the visible horizon. It provides an accurate method of locating, without the possibility of disruption
Dead reckoning using inertial navigation to estimate acceleration and attitude, integrating those to achieve a position estimate.
Magnetic anomaly detection and magnetic gradient detection, using changes in the magnetic field at large or small scales to better estimate position against a map of magnetic field parameters.
AI terrain recognition. Recently, AI assisted navigation techniques have been developed to understand the ground they are flying above.
Xnaut GENIE - GNSS Excluded Navigation Intelligent Enhancement
Archangel Imaging have developed the Xnaut GENIE solution in response to vulnerable GNSS signals to enable safe and resilient operation of manned and unmanned aircraft. The small, integrated navigation unit can be retrofitted onto lightweight, small UAS and other aircraft. The system uses 40 different methods of navigation to allow accurate, resilient navigation during both day and night, offering object detection, localisation and alerting independent of the UAS. As the Xnaut GENIE system is fitted as an applique unit there is no direct interference with flight control or certified flight safety systems.
Xnaut GENIE is fully compatible with the Cerebella mission management platform, among others, and MAVLink protocol autopilots.
Sub metre accuracy
Compatibility with most unmanned aircraft
Applique design for easy, modular integration