infiniDome, Honeywell, and Easy Aerial have demonstrated the first Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)-tailored resilient navigation solution to complete critical missions in GPS challenged and denied environments.
The three parties demonstrated the fully operational Robust Navigation System in Israel in November 2021. The system integrates GPS anti-jamming technology (GPSdome), Inertial System and Radar Velocity System into the first-ever fully resilient navigation system allowing UAVs to stay in the sky and complete their mission.
UAVs rely almost entirely on Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) for basic navigation, particularly for Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS) and autonomous operations. Due to the weakness of GNSS signals, UAVs are extremely susceptible to jamming attacks which can be carried out from large distances. UAV developers or end-users currently try to solve this problem either by creating ‘safe landing protocols’ in GNSS-challenged environments or by adding various types of sensors (e.g. LiDAR, optical, etc.) to their flight controllers which provide, only in some scenarios, a reasonable source for navigation data, but do not work in many situations such as when flying too high, too low, too fast, in fog or darkness, above the sea, and other such scenarios.
The Robust Navigation System, jointly developed by Honeywell and infiniDome, solves this problem by tightly pairing GNSS-based UAV-tailored Honeywell Compact Inertial Navigation System (HCINS) with infiniDome’s GPS anti-jamming technology (GPSdome), integrated with Honeywell’s Radar-based Velocity System (HRVS). The Robust Navigation System can be installed on almost any UAV with a common flight controller (e.g. PixHawk) providing it with continuous, accurate navigation data in GNSS-challenged or fully GNSS-denied environments.
The main goal of the demonstration was to prove the Robust Navigation System capabilities in maintaining autonomous navigation operation for multi-copters under different GPS/GNSS jamming scenarios. The demo was attended by Israeli defense primes, drone and UAV manufacturers and government end-users.
The testing was set up at the testing range in the center of Israel where 2 military-grade directional jammers (different types & bandwidths) were used to jam the navigation system of an Easy Aerial Osprey Hexa-copter operating with a PixHawk 2.1 Cube Black.
The purpose of the test was to show that a UAV protected by the Robust Navigation System, under a GPS challenged environment (single direction of jamming) and fully denied environment (multiple directions of powerful jamming by military-grade jammers) can perform BVLOS and autonomous tasks accurately and safely without needing to assume manual control of the UAV.
The UAV, protected by the Robust Navigation System solution, passed all planned tests and proved that in a GNSS-challenged environment and even in full GNSS-denied environment, it can safely land or return home, and can complete its BVLOS / Autonomous mission.
In comparison, the demonstration also showed that an unprotected drone loses position accuracy and GNSS fix within 3-5 seconds when attacked by the same jammers, tilting at an aggressive angle and taking off in seconds in a random direction. The only way to avoid it drifting away and eventually crashing is by taking manual control and visually bringing it back.