Northrop Grumman to work on GPS solution for USAF
Northrop Grumman will continue work to improve geo-registration accuracy for positioning and pointing applications for the US Air Force under a phase two inertial navigation system-related contract announced on 24 June. The work will be carried out as part of the US military’s Maintain Accurate Geo-registration via Image-nav Compensation (MAGIC) programme.
The work will help to ensure that geo-registration for positioning and pointing applications is as accurate as possible, even in GPS-denied conditions.
Geo-registration of data is critical for accurate interaction between systems, such as locating targets and handing off coordinates to another aircraft. Geo-registration of images involves pairing unreferenced images with the physical locations or exact coordinates of depicted items. This allows aircraft to create accurate maps by stitching together photos and correlating them with their world-based locations, which is useful for intelligence gathering and targeting.
In the first phase of the MAGIC programme, Northrop Grumman integrated geo-registration algorithms in a vision-aided inertial navigation system that can even operate in GPS-denied conditions. Having successfully demonstrated a prototype system in phase one, Northrop Grumman will flight-test the integrated system in phase two as well as incorporate additional improvements such as highly detailed 3-D map generation in the algorithm.
The MAGIC programme's objective is to develop and demonstrate advanced real-time geo-registration and navigation algorithms using a combination of cameras, an inertial measurement unit and GPS information (when available). The programme aims to capitalise on recent advances in the availability of low-size, -weight, -power and -cost camera systems that make the inclusion of camera information in navigation and geo-registration systems for airborne vehicles a significant opportunity.
Charles Volk, vice president of Northrop Grumman's Advanced Navigation Systems business unit, said: ‘Our positioning and geo-registration solution will help to precisely locate our own aircraft positions and target locations, particularly in challenging, high-threat environments where the adversary might be jamming GPS. Additionally, this will increase the situational awareness of warfighters and help to keep them safer.’
Northrop Grumman is partnered with Toyon Research Corporation for the work.
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