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UK to explore Data Merging for Alternative Navigation

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) plans to run an industry competition for the maturation and demonstration of Data Merging techniques supporting Alternative Navigation (Alt Nav) methods in the event of disruption to global navigation satellite systems (GNSSs).

In a 4 February tender notice, the MoD's Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) organisation said it planned to award two contracts within a total budgetary envelope of GBP1.5 million (USD2 million).

GNSS operates by computing signals broadcast from a constellation of synchronised satellites. Its use increasingly underpins precise and secure navigation for military users, but it is vulnerable to interference, spoofing, signal blockage or constellation failure that may result in GNSS denial. Furthermore, many environments in which the military operates – inside buildings, in urban canyons, under dense foliage, underwater, and underground – have limited or no GNSS signal availability.

To address this challenge, the MoD's Alt Nav programme seeks to provide GNSS-quality positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) to military users regardless of the operational environment. This involves the merging of data within the navigation system design to prolong the availability of the PNT solution from traditional and emerging sources.

Under the Data Merging competition, the selected contractors will be required to provide a demonstration proving maturation of technology and techniques to a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 6. The respective work packages, including technology development, exploitation studies, lessons learnt, and candidate architecture, will address two main themes: first, preparing for near-term exploitation of Alt Nav technologies on existing MoD applications, and defining and solving the engineering-orientated problems of real-life examples of Data Merging; second, reporting lessons learnt from the first task into the MoD's ongoing data fusion research and development activities.

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