Leidos tech navigates military toward GPS independence
Illustration: Chris Gash
Leidos is breaking new ground on a navigation system the military can use as an alternative to GPS.
The system, called ADEPT, is now integrated onto a variety of manned and unmanned aircraft and is expanding to weapon systems, ground vehicles, handheld devices and underwater platforms.
Why you should know: GPS plays a critical role in military operations from navigation to precision-guided weapons. But the satellite-based system is susceptible to electronic warfare attacks like jamming and spoofing, which can block or manipulate satellite data and significantly impair battlefield awareness.
Leidos expert Scott Pollard said while there are ongoing efforts to make GPS more resilient to these attacks, ADEPT is an accurate alternative when access to the GPS signal is lost.
How it works: ADEPT uses a variety of sensors and data, including high-resolution imagery, to triangulate location in real-time by comparing features in the terrain with 3D maps of the surrounding area. It works not only for an aircraft looking down from the sky, but also for a soldier or vehicle moving on the ground.
Looking ahead: Pollard said his team is exploring new methods to make the system even more robust.
“One area of active research involves detecting small variations in the Earth’s magnetic field to measure position in the air and at sea,” he said. “UAVs running ADEPT can also serve as anchors above the battlefield to localize forces more accurately on the ground.
Pollard predicts someday there will be the equivalent of a lunar or Martian GPS. But until then, space exploration missions outside of low earth orbit must also operate independent of GPS.
“Since our maps of the moon and Mars are accurate enough to do feature matching, ADEPT could be used to navigate landers as well as excursion vehicles and humans on the surface.”
He said GPS is still the pinnacle of accuracy, but with new machine learning techniques and non-traditional sensor inputs, ADEPT is approaching the accuracy of GPS without some of its shortcomings.
“We’re excited to help our customers turn a vulnerability into a potential advantage in the fog of war,” he said.
Please contact the Leidos media relations team for more information.