UK defence firm BAE Systems has developed a new positioning system that uses existing transmissions such as Wi-Fi, TV, radio and mobile phone signals to calculate the user’s location to within a few metres.
The technology is being touted as a replacement for current technologies such as GPS, which relies upon a relatively weak satellite signal that is vulnerable to disruption.
Known as Navigation via Signals of Opportunity (NAVSOP), BAE Systems’ new system is resistant to hostile interference such as jamming and spoofing, and can learn from signals that are initially unidentified to build a more accurate and reliable fix on its location.
NAVSOP can function in places where GPS is unable to reach, such as dense urban areas and deep inside buildings, and can work in remote parts of the world, such as the Arctic, by picking up signals that include Low-Earth-Orbit satellites and other civilian signals.
It can also be integrated into existing positioning devices to to improve the performance of GPS, according to BAE Systems.
“The potential applications of this technology are already generating huge excitement in both civilian and military circles,” said Dr Ramsey Faragher, a principal scientist from BAE Systems Advanced Technology Centre.
Potential military applications include aiding soldiers operating in remote or dense urban areas and providing improved security for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), which could face attempts to disrupt their guidance systems.
It could also have a role to play in civilian domains, where its uses include helping fire and rescue services find their way through smoke filled buildings and enhancing the safety of lone workers and security staff.