Honeywell demos alternative nav in GPS-denied environments

April 22, 2022  - By

Stringent testing on both fixed-wing plane and helicopter proves reliability and performance

Honeywell has successfully demonstrated several advanced alternative navigation technologies intended to help ensure seamless navigation, even when GPS signals are blocked, interrupted or unavailable.

Testing took place on both an Embraer E170 aircraft and an AgustaWestland AW139 helicopter.

Alternative navigation systems use sensors such as cameras, star trackers, radars and radios to augment and or aid inertial navigation systems. These systems correct inertial navigation systems in environments where 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. Our modular and scalable alternative navigation technologies are setting a new benchmark in terms of reliability and performance in GNSS-denied environments compared with what is available in aviation today.”

Alternative navigation technologies provide vital position, velocity and heading information in GNSS-denied environments. The successfully demonstrated technologies onboard the E170 and AW139 include:

  • Vision-Aided Navigation. Honeywell’s vision-aided navigation system achieved GPS-like performance on both the Embraer E170 and AW139 platforms during GPS-denied conditions. Additionally, the technology showed 67% improvement in GPS-denied performance compared with earlier testing in 2021. The system uses a live camera feed and compares it with maps to provide a passive, not jammable, and highly accurate absolute position.
  • Celestial-Aided Navigation. Honeywell’s celestial-aided navigation system on the Embraer E170 achieved an accuracy of 25 meters circular error probability of 50% (CEP50). This represented a 38% improvement in GPS-denied performance compared with tests in 2021. Most importantly, this is the first time a resident space objects-based (RSOs) navigation solution was demonstrated on an airborne platform, as most competing solutions rely only on star-based navigation. The system uses a star tracker to observe stars and RSOs to provide a passive, not jammable solution with GPS-like accuracy in GPS-denied or spoofed conditions.
  • Magnetic-Anomaly-Aided Navigation. Honeywell conducted  real-time magnetic-anomaly-aided navigation on the Embraer E170 airborne platform. This is a historic milestone, as almost all previous magnetic tests were done in special environments to mitigate electromagnetic noise. Honeywell demonstrated this passive, not jammable, all-weather 24/7 technology on an embedded platform, which measures Earth’s magnetic strength and compares it with magnetic maps to accurately identify the position of the vehicle.
Photo: InifiDome

Photo: InifiDome

Additionally, Honeywell demonstrated that inertial navigation systems, when paired with the GPSDome (an 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.

Alternative navigation prototype systems will be available in 2022, with initial deliveries expected to start in 2023.

About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.