Honeywell and InfiniDome will jointly develop a GPS signal protection system for drones

Drone GPS signal protection system could counter drone jammers

Worried about intentional GPS jamming of your drone in flight? Maybe you just want to better guarantee your drone doesn’t lose its GPS signal while flying in a dense urban area, such as near tall buildings or under bridges? Honeywell has entered the drone GPS signal protection market with a solution that could be key to drone pilots.

Honeywell announced this week as part of the AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2021 conference in Atlanta, Georgia that it has signed a collaboration agreement with InfiniDome to jointly develop and deliver a GPS signal protection system for drones.

Most drones flying today operate via GPS signals, as opposed to flying over cellular service or wifi signal. While drones flying via cellular service is certainly becoming more popular, GPS is still hugely popular.

But flying drones via GPS signal is not without its pitfalls. Here are some of the problems that drone pilots have to grapple with:

  • Maintaining consistent connection with these signals is critical (but not always achievable).
  • You may be flying in a “GPS-denied” environment, where signal service is marginal or blocked (such as near tall buildings or under bridges).
  • Drones are prone to attacks from GPS jammers, which means pilots can lose control of their drones.

That third point — drone jamming — is especially crucial, especially as companies look to find ways to get drones out of the airspace above their property. In fact, the counter-drone market is set to be worth $6.6 billion by 2024. Counter-drone companies such as Dedrone they build products including jamming devices and tracking software to stop drones from flying in certain areas.

Typically, the anti-drone company provides either detection systems or interdiction systems (or a combination of the two). Though, most jamming devices are not legal in the U.S. due to federal law which prohibits the operation, marketing, or sale of any type of jamming equipment that interferes with authorized radio communications, including cellular and Personal Communication Services (PCS), police radar, and Global Positioning Systems (GPS). Though, many other countries have no such laws, and jammers are legal.

And that focus on drone jammers makes sense. After all, Israel-based InfiniDome launched primarily as a GPS Security Company that protects all sorts of wireless communications from jamming attacks.  And the company has a history of building products that defend GPs systems for not just flying drones, but also vehicle fleets and critical networks for defense applications. 

“Intentional GPS jamming and spoofing incidents are on the rise, and this partnership will enable a rapid solution to this critical industry need,” said Matt Picchetti, vice president and general manager, Navigation & Sensors, Honeywell Aerospace. 

Honeywell and InfiniDome will jointly develop a GPS signal protection system for drones.

About the Honeywell-InfiniDome GPS signal protection system

Honeywell makes more than just thermostats. The company’s aerospace division, dubbed Honeywell Aerospace, has been building products and services for a range of commercial, defense and space aircraft including aircraft engines, cockpit and cabin electronics, wireless connectivity systems, mechanical components and more. And that includes products for drones.

The Honeywell-InfiniDome solution is a combination of hardware, software and services that together creates a single navigation platform for handling loss or lack of GPS signals. With it, expect a reduced likelihood of collisions or flyaways.

There are currently sensors available today designed to handle GPS interferences, but they tend to be bulky (which prevents the drone from being able to carry payloads or fly longer distances/for longer times). Given this version’s smaller size, it should be more useful for low-altitude drone flights such as cargo drones and urban air transportation vehicles. 

This is not InfiniDome’s first connection to Honeywell. The company in April 2021 announce the closure of a pre-series A round of $2.4 Million which included investments from Next Gear Ventures as well as Honeywell Ventures.

“Navigation is at the heart of aircraft avionics and unmanned systems and Honeywell is a leader in assured navigation technology,” Honeywell VP Matt Picchetti said at the time of the investment. “This is a strategic investment for Honeywell as we see GPS protection as a critical complement to our inertial navigation capabilities. Customers require more robust navigation architectures, and we intend to cooperate with infiniDome to build joint solutions that will revolutionize resilient navigation.”

Honeywell and InfiniDome will jointly develop a GPS signal protection system for drones

Who would use it?

While unnecessary for hobby pilots, Honeywell and InfiniDome’s GPS signal protection system could be important for a myriad of both defense and commercial applications. Maintaining signal is crucial for accurate navigation, ensuring safety of objects and people on the ground, and protecting property — both the drone itself and objects it might encounter.

And the Honeywell/InfiniDome GPS signal protection system wouldn’t necessarily be constrained to just drones. It can function with a wide range of vehicle platforms, including commercial aircraft, urban air mobility systems, unmanned aerial systems and surface vehicles. 

Just don’t expect to be able to use it — or even buy it — just yet. The initial solution offering is not expected to be commercially available until the first half of 2022.

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