The U.S Army, along with DARPA, is developing the next generation in navigation technology in an effort to limit its dependence on GPS.
“In the 1980s, when GPS satellites started to become widely deployed... it meant carrying an enormous box around on your vehicle,” the director of the Pentagon’s research agency, Arati Prabhakar, said at a press conference. “Now it’s got to the point where it’s embedded not just in all our platforms but in many of our weapons,” as well as in many civilian devices, she added.
But “sometimes a capability is so powerful that our reliance on it, in itself, becomes a vulnerability”, she added. “I think that’s where we are today with GPS.”
Those fears include the use of scrambled GPS signals by an adversary. DARPA says that it has been working on programs aimed at developing new navigation and positioning technology — at first with the goal of extending their reach to places where satellites don’t work, such as underwater.
But now amid fears of misuse, over- reliance on, and possible vulnerabilities with global positioning satellites, experts are hoping to create a companion and an alternative to GPS.
Meanwhile, researchers at DARPA and the University of Michigan have created a system that works without satellites to determine position, time and direction, all contained in an eight-cubic-millimeter chip.
DARPA envisages using this technology to replace GPS in some contexts, especially in small-caliber ammunition or for monitoring people.