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PNT Advisory Board Presentation

Tuesday, June 3, 2014, Washington D.C.

Locata’s CEO, Nunzio Gambale, was invited to make a special presentation to the US PNT Advisory Board at its June meeting in Washington D.C. The PNT Advisory Board is the peak US body that advises the President and the US Government on GPS policy and it is chaired by Dr. Brad Parkinson, the famed engineer who is openly acknowledged as “The Father of GPS”.  Dr. Parkinson is leading efforts to alert the world to the huge dependence we now have on the satellite-based system, and he is calling for urgent efforts to “Protect, Toughen and Augment” GPS against the list of growing threats.

It is now abundantly clear to the industry and global experts that the GPS satellite constellation, on which so many critical infrastructure systems rely on for position, navigation and time (PNT), urgently requires a reliable and accurate terrestrial back-up.

Locata is undeniably an important technology advance which is attracting global attention as a candidate for these “back-up to GPS” duties. The PNT Advisory Board wanted to learn more about Locata technology, and invited Nunzio to give a presentation, followed up by dinner with the Board members.

Nunzio’s presentation re-iterated the vulnerabilities of GPS previously espoused by the Board – vulnerabilities that have been acknowledged and published widely by global experts such as Dr. Brad Parkinson (see below) and Prof. David Last, Past-President of the Royal Institute of Navigation in the UK.

Nunzio argued that given these well-known and dangerous GPS vulnerabilities, it was inevitable that the world would now need an autonomous, reliable and highly-accurate terrestrial PNT solution. Modern applications have capabilities never dreamed of by the original GPS designers, and it was especially important that a new positioning technology was able keep pace with the expanding number of threats to GPS.  Nunzio pointed out that the only way to improve GPS was by embedding new capabilities in all of the 24+ satellites – this is, and always has been – a “modernization process which takes 15-30 years”. That sort of timeline is now completely untenable, given the threats.

Locata is the first GPS-like system which not only looks like a local and robust “internet model for GPS signals”, but it can also “evolve” at the rate of change of modern electronics and computing. “It’s very evident that GPS can never do that”, he said.

Nunzio highlighted the major challenges now facing GPS systems, and how Locata can help solve them. Locata’s technology roadmap shows Locata can be miniaturized over the next few years. This will deliver a new way of replicating all of GPS’ PNT functions, with local networks which are totally independent of any other terrestrial or space-based system. When Locata technology migrates to an inexpensive chip-set design, a process Nunzio said was already well underway, it will be orders of magnitude more affordable, and therefore easily integrated into mobile devices. This is exactly the same development path that was taken by GPS in the past.

Mr. Gambale stated that the Locata team had worked hard for many years, inventing the core enabling technology which could overcome these now-evident GPS vulnerabilities. He said: “This vitally important technology did not happen by accident. We have understood for many years that the GPS system could not deliver the performance which is required for robotics, inside buildings, on mobile phones and for many other modern apps. Locata had to invent a slew of brand new technologies to create our unique ability to replicate GPS on the ground. There is no other technology that can do this. The amount of innovation involved here is highlighted by the fact Locata’s co-founder David Small has been granted 125 patents to date based on his inventions.”

We believe our work will forever change what can – and should – be possible with GPS-style positioning. 

Locata clearly solves many of the problems which now plague the satellite-based systems. We are proud of what we have achieved and – in a reflection of our teams’ core values – Locata is available to all integration partners as “Your Own GPS” under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.

I commend the Locata team’s amazing work and unique developments to this Advisory Board, and to the positioning industry, as a new and invaluable addition to the world’s positioning toolbox.”

A PDF version of this presentation can be downloaded from the US PNT Advisory Board website. Please note: The presentation can be found on the agenda at time slot, 2:00 – 2:30, ‘New Technology for PNT Resilience’. 

About the US PNT Advisory Board:

The National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) Advisory Board provides independent advice to the U.S. government on GPS-related policy, planning, program management, and funding profiles in relation to the current state of national and international satellite navigation services.

The Advisory Board is arguably the world’s most influential body on positioning, navigation and time.  Its members include, amongst other legendary professionals:

Dr Bradford Parkinson, a Stanford University professor, often referred to as “The Father of GPS” because he was the Director of the USAF research program that developed the core technology which ultimately became the Global Positioning System.

Ron Hatch, a legend in GPS circles because of his invention of the Hatch Filter, dual frequency carrier-phase algorithms for landing aircraft, and the algorithms and specifications of Kinematic DGPS.

Professor Per Enge, Director of the GPS Laboratory at Stanford University and the pioneer of the use of satellite-based navigation systems for aviation and maritime applications.

Dr Penina Axelrad, Chair of the Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder