Jammer Hunting with a UAV

spicer_opener_WA fully autonomous, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-based system for locating GPS jammers, currently under development, seeks to localize a jammer to within 30 meters in less than 15 minutes in an area comparable to that of an airport.

Ultimately, the design team targets the ability to locate multiple, simultaneous jammers, and navigate in intermittent GPS and GPS-denied environments using a combination of GPS and alternate navigation aids. The system should be inexpensive and built from commercially available or open-source parts and software.

The aviation community worries about GPS jamming. Recently, it struggled to find so-called personal privacy devices on Newark’s Liberty International Airport and traveling the nearby New Jersey Turnpike.

A number of unintentional jamming incidents took a long time to resolve. The disruption from an intentional, malicious jamming attack could be far worse. Airport authorities should be prepared to locate and shut down a coordinated attack by numerous jammers capable of disrupting the GPS service over an entire airport.

The closure of a major airport for the many hours or days it would take to locate even a couple of backpack-sized transmitters would be not only be highly disruptive in flights delayed or diverted, it would negatively impact the confidence of the flying public.


Any system in place to mitigate this threat must be inexpensive enough to be deployed at least at the nation’s major commercial airports, autonomous enough to be operable with limited training and certification, and rapid and accurate enough that a jammer can be routinely apprehended by ground-based law enforcement. It must be able to navigate successfully in GPS-denied environments using alternative position, navigation and timing (APNT), and have the range and capacity to search an airport-sized area as well as the approach corridor leading to runway touchdown.

This article in GPS World describes such a system and device presently in research and development: the Jammer Acquisition with GPS Exploration & Reconnaissance (JAGER).

By James Spicer, Adrien Perkins, Louis Dressel, Mark James, Yu-Hsuan Chen, Sherman Lo , David S. De Lorenzo and Per Enge, Stanford University

Click here to read the full article.

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