- US AFRL develops navigation technology for times without GPS
- GPS can be easily denied in certain environments
The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) developed a sensor pod allowing warfighters to navigate when GPS signals are not available.
The sensor pod is called All Source Positioning and Navigation (ASPN), according to Mark Smearcheck, with the navigation and communications branch sensors directorate at AFRL. Smearcheck told Jane's on 18 May at the Pentagon that the AFRL has built an architecture so that information from alternate sensors can flow into a standard aircraft navigation box. This, he said, allows the US Air Force (USAF) to host its own alternative navigation algorithms and adjust that alternative navigation sensor information into this box so it can get warfighters through the GPS-less environments.
Smearcheck explained the parts inside a sensor pod on display, which the AFRL uses for vision-aided navigation. The pod contains an inertial navigation sensor that measures acceleration and rotation, a camera, a magnetometer, a GPS receiver, and a highly-accurate clock and barometer. Warfighters, he said, use a database of pre-processed satellite imagery downloaded from commercial satellites to get through these GPS-less environments.
The ASPN sensor pod has been demonstrated on various types of air, land, and sea vehicles. Smearcheck said ASPN has been demonstrated on a Cessna 182 Skylane commercial propeller airplane, commercial research aircraft, US Navy ships, man-portable backpacks, and the Stryker combat vehicle. Smearcheck also said the AFRL has flown the ASPN sensor pod on tactical aircraft. NASA, on its website, said the ASPN sensor pod flew on a S-3B Viking between 27 March and 7 April.
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