The USA’ GPS system, which is operated by the Protection Division, presents each one among us important infrastructure round what is named positioning, navigation and timing (PNT). Positioning and navigation is apparent each time we open up a maps app, however timing can also be a important operate of GPS — providing our smartphones and units precision timing to make sure that compute processes are precisely synced.
As extra of the economic system depends on these programs, they’ve more and more become a target of hackers through GPS spoofing. The federal government wants to create additional redundancy and resiliency in the sector, and has explored utilizing industrial options to enhance or backup elements of the GPS system.
The Division of Transportation, underneath a congressional mandate added to the protection authorization invoice for fiscal yr 2018, ran a complete analysis of economic options to government-owned and operated GPS that might function a backup to our current infrastructure.
Among the many 11 corporations thought-about within the research had been a variety of distinguished positioning startups, together with Satelles, which raised a $26 million spherical of capital in 2019; NextNav, which has raised a complete of practically $300 million, including $120 million from Fortress a year ago; and Hellen Techniques, which according to Crunchbase raised a small seed spherical final yr.
You can read the full report from the DOT, which runs to 457 pages and covers all 14 measures the researchers explored in evaluating these completely different PNT platforms.
The abstract, although, is that there are a variety of corporations that provide first rate backup capabilities for GPS, though the efficiency and value differ broadly. NextNav got here out furthest forward in response to the researchers, who said that “All [Technology Readiness Level]-qualified distributors demonstrated at the very least some PNT efficiency of worth, however just one vendor, NextNav, demonstrated in all relevant use case eventualities.”
Past that, the DOT researchers stated that “… not one of the programs can universally backup the positioning and navigation capabilities supplied by GPS and its augmentations.” Given the vary of wants that GPS fulfills, they advisable that “a various universe of positioning and navigation applied sciences” be used so as to add resiliency on this infrastructure.
Lastly, prices stay fairly sophisticated to find out. Given the best way that completely different positioning programs function, the mounted and variable prices for every system are extremely depending on desired protection space and mandatory transmitter density. The researchers weren’t capable of devise a transparent opinion on the associated fee effectiveness of various programs, though they do supply some preliminary information that may present early perception.
Given the significance of GPS and the need for corporations and the federal government to have dependable options, VCs have dumped cash on the PNT sector lately. Now, now we have some arduous information on which distributors are doubtlessly selecting up steam when it comes to performance and utility.