Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »
Locata signs agreement with the Air Force Institute of Technology
September 20th, 2013 by Susan Smith
Locata Corporation announced that it has signed a cooperative research and development agreement with the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT). This cooperation could ultimately bring completely new capabilities to GPS receivers, including resistance to jamming and spoofing. In the long run, the addition of Locata technology to GPS could finally make precise indoor positioning a reality. Locata’s CEO Nunzio Gambale answered some questions about this announcement:
Locata technology is now evolving at such a rapid rate, and our progress is so solid, that our developments can now start to improve GPS systems as well. In developing the Locata system to work indoors and in GPS occluded environments, we’ve had to find a way to overcome “the devil” – the nemesis of reliable radiopositioning – and it’s called multipath. This is the phenomenon whereby a radio signal bounces around and off objects in cluttered environments like indoor areas. This is a hard problem which has eluded a viable solution for decades, yet we needed to solve it if we wanted to deliver on our indoor positioning vision. So, Locata has had to invent a completely new genus of antenna which allows us to “see” the multipath and deal with it. Remember, this is happening at the speed of light so it’s not a trivial issue. The best way to understand why our claims sound like science fiction is to watch the animation and video of the VRay antenna on our website, here: http://www.locata.com/article/vray-antenna/, which hopefully will show why this antenna is producing results which impossible…
The VRay works superbly well at Locata frequencies, but we also quickly understood it could solve lots of problems for GPS. The US Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) studied the system and quickly understood the benefits too. Multipath is one of the major error sources for GPS in many environments, so our fixes will greatly improve GPS receiver performance in many difficult environments.
GISCafe Voice: Is the military your only market for this type of technology?
Clearly, from the information given above, VRay was and is intended for commercial and industrial indoor and urban uses, because it mitigates the multipath found in those environments. The Orb 80 antenna we released this week is delivering reliable cm-level positioning in warehouse-type environments where regular radiopositioning systems fail badly. The warehouse automation market is obviously a major one, so it’s very attractive as a technology entry area. However, it is also being looked at for port and wharf facilities where the radio signals are badly affected by bouncing off steel containers, ships, cranes etc. As the antenna shrinks (and that work is underway already) we will be able to service smaller vehicles and eventually, personal mobile devices.
GISCafe Voice: Can you explain how Locata and this agreement can revolutionize indoor positioning technology, which is growing very quickly?
The curse of positioning indoors is multipath. It’s a wicked, “chaotic” problem that cannot be solved with maths, algorithms or software. It affects every radio signal whether it’s GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc. We don’t believe the applications for indoor positioning (especially the mobile phone indoor apps) will take off in an explosive way until the devices have superbly reliable positioning. By that we mean highly accurate, repeatable, controllable positioning solutions. Until you fix multipath, this level of reliability will never happen. The VRay technology is a major step forward in solving this problem, even when applied to GPS receivers. This USAF agreement is the first step towards that VRay-GPS integration.