2023 Kepler Award received by Dr. Todd E. Humphreys

September 2023: “Dr. Todd E. Humphreys, known for his fundamental contributions to secure, precise and robust PNT and GNSS software-defined receivers (SDR), received this year’s Johannes Kepler Award. The Institute of Navigation’s (ION) Satellite Division recognized Dr. Humphreys with this prestigious honor, the highest it bestows, during the ION GNSS+ 2023 conference in Denver.” For more details, visit the Inside GNSS article here, the award page from ION here, or an news article from the ASE department at UT Austin here. A video of the hints given before the recipient was announced can be viewed here. Congratulations to Dr. Humphreys!

Pinpointing GNSS Interference from Low Earth Orbit

September 2023: A paper written by the RNL’s Zach Clements titled “Dual-Satellite Geolocation of Terrestrial GNSS Jammers from Low Earth Orbit” got published in Inside GNSS. “In the past decade, there has been a sharp increase in GNSS outages due to deliberate GNSS jamming. Receivers in LEO are uniquely situated to detect, classify and geolocate terrestrial GNSS jammers. This article explores two-step and direct geolocation of terrestrial GNSS jammers from LEO. In our paper titled “Dual-Satellite Geolocation of Terrestrial GNSS Jammers from Low Earth Orbit” we were able to detect and geolocate over 30 GNSS jammers across Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Ukraine, and Israel with pinpoint accuracy.” The publication can be found here.

IEEE/ION Best Paper Award

June 2023: RNL member Zach Clements, Todd Humphreys, and Patrick Ellis from Spire Global were awarded the Walter R. Fried Memorial Award for the best overall paper at the 2023 IEEE/ION PLANS conference. Their paper, titled “Dual-Satellite Geolocation of Terrestrial GNSS Jammers from Low Earth Orbit,” presents a comparison of a two-step geolocation method and single-step geolocation method on data captured over the Eastern
Mediterranean. Congratulations to the authors!

RNL Drone Team Ventures to Johnson Space Center

July 2023: A group of 6 students dubbed “DJI But Butter” have been working on improving the RNL’s game-engine by extending the Machine Games demos over the summer. The group, along with an RNL graduate student, took a trip to Houston’s NASA facility to get inspired and stave off summer boredom!

During their visit, they were shown around the internals of the facility, talked to members of the Space Medicine team about how they keep astronauts’ health in check, and got to see the new mission control. Furthermore, they were shown some of the reconstructions of the ISS and space shuttle on the ground, used for training.

From left to right the people depicted are Nick Franken, Maxwell Stein, Kellen Cao, Inyoung Kim, Pramuka Perera, Wenkai Qin, and Dao Ton-Nu.

Low-Cost Inertial Aiding for Deep-Urban Tightly Coupled Multi-Antenna Precise GNSS

April 2023: “A vehicular pose estimation technique is presented that tightly couples multi-antenna carrier-phase differential GNSS (CDGNSS) with a low-cost MEMS inertial sensor and vehicle dynamic constraints. This work is the first to explore the use of consumer-grade inertial sensors for tightly coupled urban CDGNSS, and first to explore the tightly coupled combination of multi-antenna CDGNSS and inertial sensing (of any quality) for urban navigation. An unscented linearization permits ambiguity resolution using traditional integer least-squares while both implicitly enforcing known-baseline-length constraints and exploiting the multi-baseline problem’s inter-baseline correlations. A novel false fix detection and recovery technique is developed to mitigate the effect of conditioning the filter state on incorrect integers. When evaluated on the publicly available TEX-CUP urban positioning data set, the proposed technique achieves, with consumer- and industrial-grade inertial sensors, respectively, a 96.6% and 97.5% integer fix availability, and a 12.0-cm and 10.1-cm overall (fix and float) 95th percentile horizontal positioning error.” For a video of the webinar, please visit

Dr. Todd Humphreys named Distinguished Alumnus of the Year by Utah State University’s ECE Department

March 2023: “Todd Humphreys began studying electrical engineering at Utah State University with the intention of becoming a patent lawyer. His career path changed, however, thanks to a professor who told him he had the heart of an engineer. […] A third-generation Aggie, Humphreys completed his bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical engineering from Utah State. As an undergraduate, Humphreys interned at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory which sparked his interest in aerospace engineering. […] After graduating from Utah State in 2003, Humphreys went to Cornell to pursue a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering and began studying the new world of GPS. […] In addition to being recognized by UT Austin as an outstanding lecturer, he has received prestigious awards from the National Science Foundation including the CAREER award and the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers. Earlier this year, the USU Electrical Engineering department named him their distinguished alumnus for the year.” More details found here.

GNSS Spoofing Detection: Guard against automated ground vehicle attacks

March 2023: A paper written by the RNL’s Zach Clements titled “Carrier-phase and IMU based GNSS Spoofing Detection for Ground Vehicles” got published in GPS World. The summary from GPS World is “we look at how carrier-phase measurements combined with those from an inertial measurement unit can guard against a deliberate attack on an automated ground vehicle — something that cannot be discounted in our world these days.” The publication can be found here.

Starlink’s impact on drone Warfare

February 2023: Many reports from Ukraine support the fact that efforts by the country have been significantly aided by their use of Starlink’s services. Whether it is in civilian use, or military use, Starlink terminals and services are widely used. A specific area of interest is in drones, where reports from Ukraine claim “the country’s military was looking to establish strike forces that would be provided with Starlink equipment to create fleets of interoperable drones” according to C4ISRNET. According to experts like David T. Burbach, professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, “[there is] no question that Starlink’s prominence in the Ukraine war has militaries all over the world considering and looking to make greater use of it as well as similar mobile data constellations.” With some unconfirmed reports from pro-Russian paramilitary groups claiming to have found Starlink dishes modified to fit in Ukrainian drones, the question of using signals emitted by potential Starlink-enabled drones or base stations to intercept them arises. The RNL’s Dr. Humphreys asserts that the user terminal beams  “are narrow (less than 5 degrees and they hop around in frequency, which make it hard to get an actual lock on a terminal.” The impact of Starlink’s use in current Ukrainian efforts are bound to shape potential future military uses of Starlink, regardless of comments by Starlink and Elon Musk regarding a ban of use of Starlink for long-range drone strikes by Ukrainian forces. Story here.

Starlink’s effect on the War in Ukaraine

January 2023: Starlink has ” became a transformative tool for modern warfare” as is evident in the current war in Ukraine where is it used in a variety of manners to aid in communication, intelligence and even military strategy support through algorithms made available to commanders. “Tens of thousands of Ukrainian citizens” are also relying on the service, many of which are soldiers on the front lines. According to the RNL’s Dr. Humphreys, military insiders “are in awe of Starlink,” since it provides more resilience than some military specific communications systems, specifically in jamming. For more on the story, visit The Times.

RNL Member Hailey Nichols awarded an “Austin Inno Under 25”

December 2022: According to Austin Business Journal, “Inno Under 25 is a recognition of the top founders, entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders under 25 in your local ecosystem. To highlight some of our youngest entrepreneurs and innovators, Inno compiles a list each year of promising and accomplished future leaders in the city’s startup scene.” RNL alumna Hailey Nichols was awarded an “2023 Inno under 25,” as a rising startup leader in Austin. Congratulations Hailey!

1 2 24