Life without the Global Positioning System (GPS) is hard to imagine. The U.S. government's satellite radio navigation system, operated by the U.S. Air Force, is used by government departments, the military, corporations, and civilians for a variety of needs, from landing a flight on the correct runway to finding the nearest Thai restaurant.
While the 24 orbiting satellites that keep the GPS running may one day stop sending signals due to a technical failure, a more likely threat to the positioning system is jamming technology. In the event of an attack on GPS, critical infrastructures such as power grids and ATM networks can no longer function and everyday life can get out of hand. To prevent such a terrible scenario, experts have worked tirelessly for years to find a reliable antidote to GPS jammer.
One such team works in the department for the implementation of communication systems in the aerospace industry and develops BLISS (Blind Interference Signal Suppression) technology, which experts say is intended to counteract interference signals that can interfere with GPS reception.
How does GPS work?
The Global Positioning System uses orbiting satellites that send radio signals that reach a GPS receiver to determine positioning through triangulation. By triangulation, a method of measuring three separate points to calculate a location. GPS works in handheld devices such as smartphones, is included in vehicle navigation and positioning systems, and in small GPS tracking devices. In addition to determining geographical location, GPS also offers a critical dimension - time. Today GPS is an integral part of several sectors including communications, power and utilities, finance, emergency services, and transportation. In addition, many other devices rely on the positioning system to some extent.
How do jammers block GPS signals?
GPS jammers were first developed for military organizations and espionage agencies to confuse the enemy about exact locations or to ensure that the enemy's GPS guided missiles / bombs did not hit the target. In recent years, civilians have searched for these devices for privacy reasons. Most civilians, however, lack the technical know-how to operate these devices. GPS jammers send noise on the same frequencies used by the satellites to ensure that the receivers cannot pick up the signals. Depending on the transmission strength of the jammer, this can interfere with GPS reception for a few meters, a few miles or even more.
The developers of Blind Interference Signal Suppression (BLISS) in the development department for communication systems for the aerospace industry say that BLISS with existing receivers can be implemented as a standalone device between a GPS receiver and its antenna or integrated into a future receiver chipset. "BLISS uses a proprietary set of algorithms that estimate certain properties of a high power jammer, which can mitigate the effects of a wide variety of strong jammers," said Dr. Philip Dafesh, one of the BLISS architects.
In contrast to conventional methods, BLISS is also effective against jammers that are tuned to the signal of interest and does not allow jammers that change their frequency or phase properties quickly. Developers say the technology looks promising and has been licensed to Talen-X, a subsidiary of Orolia, a company that specializes in manufacturing precise time and frequency products. "We have a very talented and diverse workforce who use the latest technologies from various fields to create and deploy working proof-of-concept devices such as BLISS," said Dr. Esteban Valles, director of the department for the implementation of digital communication.