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Lost Without GPS? Not With Honeywell Alternative Navigation

Lost Without GPS? Not With Honeywell Alternative Navigation

Aircraft and unmanned autonomous systems have relied on highly accurate navigation systems that combine the best of both worlds by blending an inertial navigation system (INS) with a global navigation satellite system (GNSS). But how do pilots or unmanned systems navigate when GNSS signals aren’t available?

Soon commercial and military pilots be able to use alternative navigation technologies that use sensors like cameras, LiDAR, radar, radios and star-trackers to augment and improve INS data, according to Thandava Edara, Honeywell Offering Director for alternative navigation.

“These technologies can fill the void left when GNSS signals are jammed, blocked or simply unavailable,” he said. “Disruptions to GNSS signals are becoming more common, especially in military applications, which can cause enormous operational and flight safety problems. In a traditional INS-GNSS configuration, the GNSS signals are used to correct errors that cause inertial systems to ‘drift’ over time. alternative navigation technologies can augment and aid the INS in a GPS-denied environment.”

Building on decades of leadership in inertial navigation systems for all kinds of aircraft and spacecraft, Honeywell engineers have made enormous progress in alternative navigation, aided by evolutionary advancements in sensors and other enabling technologies.  Honeywell was one of the first companies to successfully demonstrate alternative navigation technologies in a GPS-denied environment.

“We were able to showcase our capabilities in November at a U.S. Army assured positioning, navigation and timing new-technology demonstration called PNTAX,” Edara said. “Using a star-tracker we were able to observe stars and resident space objects (RSOs) and triangulate our position in real time. We believe this is the first time this has ever been done. Using star-tracker data under real-world conditions, Honeywell’s celestial-aided navigation system matched the performance of a GNSS-INS configuration.”

At PNTX, Honeywell also demonstrated vision-aided navigation, which used long-wave infrared camera technology to correlate with local map information; and magnetic anomaly aided navigation, which measures magnetic readings and compares them with geographical magnetic maps to accurately identify the position of the aircraft

“No single Alternative Navigation System can replace GNSS in the near future as each system has its own advantages and limitations,” Edara said. “So, our focus is on building a layered resilience architecture by fusing various navigation systems to create robust solutions that allow customers to mix and match multiple technologies to meet their operational requirements.”

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