Collaborate to design the future of PNT Advanced Signals


June 19-21, 2018 at Catalyst Campus in Colorado Springs, CO

Problem Background

PNT Signals (such as those developed for GPS) face many challenges. The original GPS signals were developed in the 1970s for contested or degraded environments that seemed plausible at the time, and the resulting lack of robustness in current and future environments is a serious concern to both the US military and the many industrial sectors that rely heavily on GPS. GPS modernization efforts are addressing some of the more obvious challenges, but new threats are constantly arising from emerging technology.

Traditionally, PNT signals (particularly GPS) have been designed by government-led teams for government operated systems, whereas communications and radar signals have been developed by industry with little to no government oversight and the domain is much more diverse.

Seeking Industry Partners

We seek a broad consortium of industry and academic partners to identify several of the most fruitful opportunities for future development. Industry partners should be prepared to join a team, eagerly collaborate, and approach problems with an open mind to embrace the design thinking process.

Of particular interest to this design sprint are industry partners with expertise in the following areas:
  • Communication RF waveform development
  • Software-defined receivers and/or transmitters
  • Cryptography
  • Cognitive radio
  • Network-based/MIMO approaches
  • Wideband waveforms
  • LPI/LPD comm signals

What is a design sprint?

A design sprint is an innovative framework for answering critical organizational questions through design, prototyping, and testing ideas with users. The sprint is conducted in 3 intensive, hands-on days consisting of teams working together to bring a diversity of thought to a problem or challenge. Design sprints are meant to speed up the process to making decisions and testing ideas through rapid iterations and immediate user feedback. A realistic outcome of a design sprint is a proof of concept that provides insights into technical feasibility and user desirability.

Goals of the sprint

The PNT signals of the future should leverage new developments in RF technology when applicable, especially those developed to solve problems in related fields such as communications and radar, to increase the resilience of the PNT enterprise. Resilience in this context embraces not only robust performance in the presence of interference, but also adaptability to new threats, lower SWAP-C solutions to enable new classes of users, and an environment that permits rapid innovation and transition of new capabilities to operational use.

Benefit of diversity of thought

Through this design sprint, AFRL is looking to discover what already exists and what is possible in the realm of advanced PNT signals. Fundamentally, this is an effort to achieve cross-pollination between related technical domains. Signal-based solutions exist for disparate problems such as time-based ranging, time transfer, communications, tracking, and remote sensing of weather and other environmental data. Some of the techniques or hardware developed to meet other challenges is expected to carry over and benefit new developments in PNT signals.

Apply to Participate

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