Spotlight

RNL Member Hailey Nichols Wins Graduate Category at Inaugural Female Founder Pitch Competition

RNL member Hailey Nichols won first place in the Female Founder Pitch competition for their Graduate/Postdoc category. In each of their categories the first place prize was $7,500 and the second place prize was $2,500.

The pitch was for her startup Locus Lock, which offers a robust software-defined radio (SDR) for precise positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT). The goal is to offer a high-integrity, centimeter-accurate, real-time positioning and globally available product at a low cost.

The top 10 winning participants from the competition are competing again in March 2022 for the grand prize event where they pitch directly to a panel of judges—including Austin entrepreneur Kendra Scott—for a chance at an additional cash prize of $10,000. To read more about it see the article from the WNCG here.

Research by CARMEN (Center for Automated Vehicles Research with Multimodal AssurEd Navigation) to Reduce GPS Vulnerabilities

An article on Forbes titled “New Ohio State Research Reduces GPS Vulnerabilities” goes into some detail about research being conducted to reduce GPS vulnerabilities. CARMEN, the Center for Automated Vehicles Research with Multimodal Assured Navigation, directed by Professor Zak Kassas, and including Professors Todd Humphreys and Chandra Bhatt from The University of Texas at Austin, is focusing on reducing GPS vulnerabilities. With emergency workers, shipping boats, aircraft and even our power production relying on GPS for positioning and timing it is no surprise there is a massive interest in reducing its vulnerability to jamming and spoofing. Ideas such as using 5G or LEO satellite signals for navigation have been successfully explored from Dr. Kassas’s team. Dr. Humphreys’s team is examining risk identification and signal authentication using terrestrial signals. To read more see the article here.

Video by YouTube channel GNSS-R Musings uses findings from “First results from three years of GNSS Interference Monitoring from Low Earth Orbit”

Youtube channel GNSS-R Musings published a video looking more in depth at her RFI observations in Lybia during 2019. While looking into the reason why her observations did not line up with SMAP observations, she found our paper “First results from three years of GNSS Interference Monitoring from Low Earth Orbit” which she talked more about in her video here.

RNL Alumni Wins Prestigious Parkinson Award

October 2021: RNL alumnus Dr. Lakshay Narula (PhD, 2020) won the Bradford W. Parkinson Award, recognizing an outstanding graduate student in the field of Position, Navigation, Timing (PNT) and/or Applications.  Lakshay Narula’s Ph.D. dissertation is a substantial and foundational contribution to the PNT community. It makes four primary contributions, one of which has already been favorably recognized by the ION community: his work in all-weather precise positioning for automated vehicles, published at the ION PLANS 2020 conference, was awarded the Walter Fried award — the conference’s highest honor — for its technical depth and potential impact.  As fully developed in his dissertation, this work offers both novel theory and a fully-functional experimental pipeline with impressive field-test results.

The announcement can be found here.

“Grandfather of the RNL” Wins Kepler Award

October 2021: Dr. Mark Psiaki won the 2021 Institute of Navigation (ION) Kepler Award, the highest award in the navigation community.  The Kepler Award is awarded annually to honor an individual for sustained and significant contributions to the development of satellite navigation during their lifetime (can be thought as the navigation “hall of fame”).  Dr. Psiaki set a standard of rigor, clarity, and thoroughness in addressing key estimation and signal processing problems in PNT.  Dr. Psiaki was RNL director Todd Humphreys’s Ph.D. advisor at Cornell.

The full announcement can be accessed here.

Dr. Humphreys presents on Resilient and Robust PNT at the Joint Navigation Conference

October 2021: Dr. Todd Humphreys presented on Resilient and Robust PNT at the Joint Navigation Conference, saying we need “backups on backups on backups.”  Within this talk, he discussed GNSS vulnerabilities and threats as well as defense mechanisms.  He included real-world examples such as: spoofing an iPhone, UAV, and super-yacht, “crop circles” in China, and pin-pointing sources of interference from Low Earth Orbit. 

The full set of slides can be found here.

RNL Director and RNL Alumnus Featured in New PNT Textbook

September 2021: Authors of new PNT textbook: Position, Navigation, and Timing Technologies in the 21st Century: Integrated Satellite Navigation, Sensor Systems, and Civil Applications, met in-person at the ION GNSS+ conference.  The textbook covers the latest developments in PNT technologies, including integrated satellite navigation, sensor systems, and civil applications and features RNL director Todd Humphrey, RNL alumnus Zak Kassas, and RNL “grandfather” Mark Psiaki. 

The full list of authors included in the picture are: James Farrell (ch. 46), Sabrina Ugazio (ch. 10), Benjamin Ashman (ch. 22), Brad Parkinson (ch. 1), John Betz (cc. 2, 3), Mark Psiaki (ch. 25), John Raquet (cc. 35, 48, 50), Todd Humphreys (ch. 25), Charles Toth (ch. 51), Zak Kassas (cc. 38, 43).  Bottom row, left to right: Boris Pervan (ch. 12), Mathieu Joerger (cc. 23, 60), Todd Walter (cc 13, 43, 64), Frank van Diggelen (cc. 1, 17, 18)

The book can be found here.

FAA Investigating Use of Cellular Signals for GPS Spoofing Detection

September 2021: The FAA authorized the MITRE Corporation to perform a series of tests that used commercial smartphones inside of aircraft as a method to detect GPS spoofing.  These tests involved a feature of wireless cellular networks called Timing Advance that is available through standard 4G and 5G wireless networks operated by AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon.  A range estimate can be deduced from the basestations, which serves as a check for the GPS solution.  GNSS spoofing expert Dr. Humphreys mentions that this technology is what he would hope the FAA would look at, as it could be an effective way to detect spoofing at a cheap cost.  

The full article can be found here.

Dr. Humphreys Interviewed in NPR Segment about AIS Spoofing

August 2021:  Dr. Todd Humphreys was featured in NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.  The segment focused on AIS spoofing in the Black Sea, specifically the contested waters of Russian-occupied Crimea.  U.S. and European naval vessels tend to be the primary victims, however, there are Russian vessels spoofed in the same manner.  Dr. Humphreys suggests that Russia could be behind this and that they’re spoofing their own ships in part to throw off suspicion. But it’s also possible that this is some third party.

The full NPR segment (including transcript) can be found here.

AIS Spoofing in Contested Waters – Warships Target of Disinformation

July 2021:  Over 100 warships from at least 14 European countries, Russia, and the United States appear to have had their AIS location spoofed since August 2020.  Amongst these unlucky warships, some of the spoofed tracks show the warships approaching contested areas, such as, foreign naval bases or intruding into disputed waters.  These activities could escalate tension in hot spots like the Black Sea and the Baltic.  Dr. Humphreys comments, “While I can’t say for sure who’s doing this, the data fits a pattern of disinformation that our Russian friends are wont to engage in.”  He also says AIS could be more secure by adding digital signatures to each message.  

The full Wired article can be accessed here.

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