Estimated reading time 4 minutes, 37 seconds.
Honeywell has successfully demonstrated several advanced alternative navigation technologies that it says will help ensure seamless navigation, even when GPS signals are blocked, interrupted, or unavailable.
The company completed the tests using a Leonardo AW139 and an Embraer E170 fixed-wing aircraft.
Alternative navigation systems use sensors such as cameras, star trackers, radars and radios to augment or aid inertial navigation systems. These systems correct inertial navigation systems in environments where global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) are denied.
“Our customers are seeing an increase in both intentional and unintentional navigational disruptions, including jamming for GNSS-based navigation,” said Matt Picchetti, vice president and general manager, navigation and sensors, Honeywell Aerospace.
“There hasn’t been a single set of solutions that meet all our customers’ operational needs, so we decided to create one,” he continued.
The successfully demonstrated technologies onboard the AW139 and E170 were vision aided navigation, celestial aided navigation, and magnetic anomaly aided navigation.
Honeywell said its vision aided navigation system achieved GPS-like performance on both the Embraer E170 and AW139 during GPS-denied conditions. It said the technology also showed a 67 percent improvement in GPS-denied performance compared with testing it completed last year. The system uses a live camera feed and compares it with maps to provide a passive, not jammable, and highly accurate absolute position.
The celestial aided navigation achieved an accuracy of 25 meters circular error probability of 50 percent on the Embraer E170. Honeywell said this represented a 38 percent improvement in GPS-denied performance compared with tests last year.
The company added that this is the first time a resident space objects-based (RSOs) navigation solution was demonstrated on an airborne platform, as most solutions rely only on star-based navigation.
The system utilizes a star tracker to observe stars and RSOs to provide a passive, not jammable solution with GPS-like accuracy in GPS-denied conditions.
Finally, Honeywell said it conducted the world’s first real-time magnetic anomaly-aided navigation on an airborne platform — the Embraer E170. The company said the test was “a historic milestone” — as almost all previous magnetic tests have been completed in special environments to mitigate electromagnetic noise.
The technology measures the earth’s magnetic strength and compares it with magnetic maps to accurately identify the position of the vehicle.
Honeywell said it also demonstrated that inertial navigation systems, when paired with the GPSDome anti-jamming device, showed significant improvement in position accuracy and integrity performance in the presence of GPS jamming. The ability of GPSDome to enable tracking of GPS satellites under more aggressive jamming environments reduces performance degradations that come with GNSS-denied conditions, the company said.
Honeywell’s alternative navigation prototype systems will be available in 2022, with initial deliveries expected to start in 2023.