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Un-Jammable GPS? U.K. Researchers Say “YES!”

Every time you plug in, put your GPS shade on and tap in your destination, you probably don’t worry too much about jamming. Jamming, or the act of using a small pocket-sized device to hinder a GPS signal, is actually a very serious problem.

While it may not affect the average person simply trying to go about their day, it can cause serious problems for industrial and military industries.

GPS works well, but its signal is fairly faint. That means it is easy for someone to distort the signal and cause the device to stop working. This type of drama played out at New Jersey’s Newark airport in 2009. At the time, personnel noticed that the GPS receivers for a new system were experiencing brief breaks in reception throughout the day. After a 2 month long investigation by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), they discovered that someone driving along the Jersey Turnpike had a cheap GPS jammer that was causing the disturbance.

GPS jamming is also used in other countries. Authorities in South Korea stated that the North Korean government uses jammers on their civilian and military receivers.

Researchers in the United Kingdom are working on technology to reinforce the GPS system to help stop the plague of jammers. While some expensive methods are already available, such as using directional antennas to point directly at satellites, better options are needed.

Professor Brad Parkinson, who is recognized as the father of GPS, has announced his P.T.A. program, which stands for Protect, Toughen and Augment. This program is intended to produce new technology that will make GPS more resistant to jamming as well as possible backup systems in case a unit is successfully jammed.

One alternative solution is eLoran, which produces a signal that is between 500 and 1,000 times stronger than those used by current GPS systems. Experts and researchers in the U.K. continue to improve the technology to make it readily available so that GPS jamming can become a thing of the past.

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