World’s first automatic back up for GPS successfully demonstrated in jamming trial

27 March, 2013: Technology to automatically counter the threat of GPS jamming has been successfully demonstrated for the first time, it was announced today.

On several excursions aboard the THV Galatea out of Harwich, UK, ACCSEAS (Accessibility for Shipping, Efficiency Advantages and Sustainability) has successfully demonstrated a prototype resilient PNT (positioning, navigation and timing) system. The system used an alternative technology to automatically and seamlessly step in to transmit mission-critical data in the event of GPS loss or failure. The trials were successfully completed between 28th February and 1st March.

Today, many devices and applications rely on GPS-based information and it plays a fundamental role in delivering the PNT data that ships rely on to ensure safe navigation. GPS signals are vulnerable to interference from space weather, however, accidental jamming and deliberate threats have recently been highlighted as serious concerns because of the wide availability of inexpensive GPS jammers online. Even the cheapest jammers are capable of causing complete outages across all receivers currently on the market.

Building on two previous trials conducted by the General Lighthouse Authorities (GLA) in 2008 and 2010 which investigated the impact of GPS service denial, this latest demonstration is the first time that an automatic and seamless solution has been demonstrated in a real-world scenario. The prototype system was integrated into the bridge of the vessel and monitored the performance of independent PNT sources in order to provide the ‘best’ available. As such, when GPS was deliberately jammed, the system switched automatically to provide eLoran derived PNT information to the connected bridge systems, allowing them to maintain operation and enabling the mariner to continue to navigate safely and efficiently.

Martin Bransby, Research & Radionavigation Manager at GLA, which carried out the trial on behalf of ACCSEAS, commented, “The more dependent we become on electronic systems, the more resilient they must be. Otherwise, we face a scenario where technology is actually reducing safety rather than enhancing it. Demands on marine navigation are only getting tighter, yet electronic systems at sea are primitive compared to those used in air travel. This needs to change.”




ACCSEAS (Accessibility for Shipping Efficiency Advantages and Sustainability) is a European Union part-funded project involving 11 partners from across the North Sea Region. Its aim is to improve safety, security and environmental protection in the North Sea Region by developing and implementing a practical e-Navigation test bed to harmonise the exchange of electronic maritime information onboard and ashore.

ACCSEAS Partners:  General Lighthouse Authorities (UK); Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden); Danish Maritime Authority; Federal Waterways & Shipping Administration (Germany); Rijkwaterstaat, Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment (The Netherlands); Swedish Maritime Administration; Norwegian Coastal Administration; SSPA Sweden AB; Flensburg University of Applied Science (Germany); NHL Hogeschool, Leeuwarden, Maritiem Instituut Willem Barentsz (The Netherlands); World Maritime University (Sweden).

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