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PNT Roundup: Inertial market outlook, 3D grows lidar, RoboParachute drops

February 22, 2016  - By
Image: GPS World


Inertial effort underway for MGUE

The U.S. Air Force’s Joint Service Systems Management Office (JSSMO) has awarded Northrop Grumman Corporation an order to support embedded GPS/inertial navigation system (INS) pre-Phase 1 modernization efforts.

Integration of inertial technology with GPS systems across all military platforms — some, such as munitions, are already so equipped — could have far-reaching effects. The move reflects the military’s concern over GPS vulnerabilities in challenged environments.

The Military GPS User Equipment (MGUE) program is developing M-code-capable GPS receivers, which are mandated by Congress after fiscal year 2017 and will help to ensure the secure transmission of accurate military signals.

Under the $4.8 million order, Northrop Grumman will perform trade studies, assess the state of development of MGUE for upcoming applications, and contribute to architecture development for next-generation GPS/inertial navigation systems.

The JSSMO is responsible, among other things, for a GPS lab in the Department of Defense that helps develop and test software for GPS systems used throughout the military.

One of the systems it maintains is the Blue Force Tracker (BFT), which is used by all military branches and can track friendly units regardless of their location. Not only can the system see where the unit is located, it can also determine whether or not a unit is moving and what form of transportation it is using.

Aviation Use. The updated GPS/inertial navigation system will also comply with the Federal Aviation Administration’s NextGen air traffic control requirements that aircraft flying at higher altitudes be equipped with Automatic Dependence Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Out by January 2020. ADS-B Out transmits information about an aircraft’s altitude, speed and location to ground stations and to other equipped aircraft in the vicinity. The modernized system is expected to be available for platform integration starting in 2018.

Inertial market to top $8.9 billion by 2020

The inertial navigation system (INS) market is projected to grow from $4.64 billion in 2015 to $8.87 billion by 2020, according to a January 2016 reported from research firm ReportLinker. Factors driving the global INS market include the increasing number of aircraft, technological advancements in navigation systems, increasing demand for accuracy in navigation, and availability of smaller components at lower cost.

“Commercial platform application segment to witness the highest growth during the forecast period,” says the report.

Key applications considered in the market study are naval, airborne, land and commercial platforms. The overall INS market is dominated by the naval platform segment. However, the commercial platform segment is projected to grow at a comparatively higher CAGR during the forecast period of 2015 to 2020, primarily driven by the demand for new aircraft in response to the burgeoning rise in air travel and congestion of airspace.

Recent advances in inertial technology have replaced the mechanical components with electronic ones, particularly micro-electro-mechanical sensors (MEMS). Overall focus has remained on increasing the accuracy and reducing weight of the INS.

The major companies profiled in the report include Northrop Grumman Corporation (U.S.), Honeywell International Inc. (U.S.), Sagem (France), Rockwell Collins (U.S.) and Thales SA (France), among others.


Lidar market grows with 3D

Anew market report on light detection and ranging (lidar) technology says that the demand for lidar is increasing in line with an increase in the demand for 3D scanning and 3D imagery.

According to the report, the global lidar market is anticipated to expand at 15 percent annually from 2014 to 2020, growing from a value of $225 million in 2013 to $605 million in 2020.

Lidar enables direct measurement of 3D structures and underlying terrain with high resolution and high data accuracy. The adoption of lidar technology is slowly penetrating in various government sectors such as roadways, railways and forestry management, among others.

However, the lidar market faces challenge related to the complexity in interpreting the output data, because of the lack of data-set standardization.

The 80-page research study is titled LiDAR Market: Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2014–2020, available for sale from Transparency Market Research.

The lidar market can be segmented based on types into airborne and terrestrial lidar and based on applications into coastal, forestry, transportation, infrastructure, defense and aerospace, transmission lines and flood mapping, among others.

Geographically, the lidar market is dominated by North America owing to high adoption of advanced 3D imagery technologies by the U.S. government. Europe follows with a minimal difference in the market share. A large number of key players are based in Europe and are involved in making innovations to meet the requirements of consumers in different applications.

The report has been segmented by type, application and geography. It also includes the drivers, restraints, opportunities and value chain of the global lidar market.


RoboParachute drops

The U.S. Army’s Joint Precision Airdrop System (JPADS) has developed a new capability exploiting a navigation alternative to GPS. In recent tests, JPADS were dropped from planes, and immediately determined their location using optical sensors to compare local terrain with commercial satellite imagery. The new system demonstrated navigation to its intended point, using nothing but imagery to guide it. The new JPADS also works with little knowledge of the aircraft’s location at the drop point.

JPADS, largely guided by GPS, has already proven its importance in supplying troops with necessary materials and equipment, relying less on vulnerable convoys.

Contractor Draper will continue developing the system to eliminate current obstacles, such as cloud cover that degrades the vision-aided navigation system’s ability to compare vision sensor inputs with satellite imagery. These imagery-data analysis technologies could be used to help guide military freefall paratroopers and autonomous aerial vehicles.

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