NEWS

Unmanned Vehicle GPS Developers Express Concerns About LightSquared

By Carlton Purvis

Ritter said that he was concerned about the effect LightSquared’s transmitters could have on high precision GPS systems in UAVs. In tests earlier this year, it was determined that even if LightSquared broadcasted at lower than intended frequencies, it could cause GPS malfunctions. Ritter said the impact would affect both UAVs and ground-based unmanned vehicles. 

In filings, and repeated at the panel, LightSquared said it would be willing to work with the GPS and the aviation industries on creating a filter that could be added to existing GPS devices. But this filter, that “has yet to be invented or manufactured won’t work…and even if it did work, it would take a decade or more to implement it,” Rudinger said.

Ritter disagreed slightly. He said one did exist -- it’s just not practical for the UAV industry.

“The filter, it’s the size of a shoe box,” he told Security Management after the discussion. In UAVs, the gps board is "this big," he said holding his fingers roughly an inch apart, "compare that to the shoebox size filter." While more missions are being added to an already long list of duties for small UAVs, the last thing engineers are looking to do is add more weight.

In her opening statement, Rudinger said the FCC should share the blame too.

“The FCC holds some responsibility for allowing this issue to get this far along in the first place…It’s unfair to rural communities who need that 4G service…It’s unfair to the aviators…And it’s unfair to the business person who wants to be successful,” she said.

The FCC is supposed to help to "mitigate these issues early on and come out with a solution that works for everybody,” she added.


photo by smith from flickr

 

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