NovAtel SAASM to See First Action in Aerial Drones

June 16, 2012  - By
Image: GPS World

The new OEM625S Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module (SAASM) GNSS receiver from NovAtel, launched in a cooperative effort with SAASM expert L-3 Interstate Electronics Corporation (IEC), will get its first applications in the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) sector. NovAtel has brought forth the new product in part to meet requirements of UAV manufacturers who are now mandated to have SAASM onboard as well, for in-theater operations in areas of military activity.

“The new SAASM regulations meant that integrators were looking at having to incorporate another receiver alongside their NovAtel unit, complicating user interface factors and increasing onboard space requirements,” said NovAtel Product Manager Neil Gerein. “The OEM625S gives our customers a drop-in form factor that easily replaces their existing NovAtel OEM receiver.”

“NovAtel has supplied UAV integrators on the civil scientific side almost since our inception,” Gerein said, adding, “the military has become more and more involved in this market in recent years for budget and various other strategic reasons.” He mentioned that in its 20-year history selling GPS products, for the last 17 years NovAtel has provided receivers and expertise to U.S. and Canada defense contractors, and to defense research labs in Allied countries. Antcom, a wholly-owned NovAtel subsidiary specializing in antennas and microwave products, makes the majority of its sales into military areas.

Examples of such products in this area — not necessarily from NovAtel customers, who remain unidentified — include hand-launched mini-UAVs like the Aerovironment RQ-11 Raven and Elbit Skylark I, and runway-capable tactical UAVs such as Textron RQ-7 Shadow, Aeronautics DS Aerostar, IAI Searcher II, and InSitu’s ScanEagle UAV system, quickly evolving into a mainstay with the U.S. Navy and its allies thanks to a partnership with Boeing.

The InSitu ScanEagle was first developed to track dolphins and tuna from fishing boats, to ensure that fish labeled “dolphin-safe” actually are so. The same characteristics needed by commercial fishing boats — low infrastructure launch and recovery, small size, 20-hour long endurance, automated flight patterns — are key for naval operations from larger vessels, and for battlefield surveillance.

At present the OEM625S, combining a commercial dual-frequency NovAtel GNSS receiver with an L-3 IEC XFACTOR SAASM, provides single-point positioning with SAASM for authorized defense customers. The SAASM position is provided via a dedicated communication port, as well as through NovAtel’s software command protocol, allowing for maximum flexibility. The small form factor and low power consumption expands range of potential defense applications requiring robust SAASM GPS positioning.

The OEM625S measures 60 x 100 x 9.1 millimeters, and runs on field-upgradeable software. NovAtel will accept orders for the OEM625S from authorized customers starting in Q3 2012.

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