DOT conducts GPS backup study

April 14, 2017  - By 5 Comments

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is studying responses to its November 2016 request for information concerning back-up systems for GPS. DoT is investigating possibilities and practicalities of using one or more positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) technologies to ensure PNT resiliency for critical infrastructure in the event of a temporary disruption in GPS availability.

The filing period closed Jan. 30.

RFI Response

Several companies responded to the RFI. Statements from Satelles, NextNav, NovAtel, Allied Partners, Harris, UrsaNav, and Orolia dba Spectracom were not made public because they “contain confidential business information data.”

Statements are available at the web page from Oakridge National Laboratory, UrsaNav and iPosi, SAE International, the GPS Innovation Alliance and Locata Corporation, which made its response openly available “to kick off the necessary public discussion.”

Senate Inquiry

At a Feb. 8 Commerce Committee hearing, Sen. Roy Blunt asked DoT Inspector General Calvin Scovel about progress on GPS back-up, which DoT and the Deputy Secretary of Defense announced they would “be working on” in 2015. Scovel responded with information about the Federal Aviation Administration’s next-gen plan, which did not address the question.

Sen. Blunt then asked Scovel to submit a written answer for entry into the final record of the hearing: “My question for the record will be that this commitment made in 2015 concerned about the current dependency that so many people have with GPS, is ‘Are they moving forward with a backup system if the current GPS system goes down?”

5 Comments on "DOT conducts GPS backup study"

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  1. Willliam K. says:

    It would indeed be good to know what sort, if any, progress has been made toward reducing the potential damages resulting from interference with the GPS signals. A WHOLE lot of folks have become very dependent on the system. Also, what sort of backup would be available?

  2. Another backup study? How many does it take?

  3. Glenn Michael says:

    Before the US spends billions on anything, what exactly are the critical areas that need backup?? The aviation industry is really the only area that needs a robust backup in the event of GPS failure. You can still look at a a map in your car. Technologies exist, such as E-LORAN, ground based NAVAIDS and IRU systems that can mitigate the navigation issues, and keeping some ground based radar in operation in critical areas, can provide separation safety even in RNP operations. The exact problem needs to be defined prior to launching any type of research into a backup platform for GPS.

  4. How many years have the DOT/DHS/DOD known about single system failures? The only national backup was Loran-C, now morphing into eLoran, a national system capable of backing up GPS/DGPS without the potential jamming problem that the current single navigation/timing satellite system has.
    Since most of the Loran-C sites are still in one piece and the modification to the transmitter is minor, it is a chance to provide a national backup for little money.
    To keep studying the problem does not fix the problem that has been known since the 1980s, no resistance to jamming or spoofing of the signal, thus signal integrity is suspect and possibly corrupted.
    To prevent a problem with the single system that the United States is so dependent upon, go forward with eLoran and have a national backup.

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