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The United States Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) is assessing proposals for handheld navigation devices that don’t use GPS satellite signals. The goal is that in future conflicts, U.S. Army soldiers will be able to navigate in areas where GPS signals are expected to be disrupted or absent.
Over the last month, the DIU has received 25 proposals for the Dismounted Assured PNT System (DAPS). PNT is an abbreviation for Positioning, Navigation, and Timing.
The DIU has stated that the response they have received from firms was better than expected, with officials telling Spacenews.com that the proposals received “covered a range of technology options.”
In order for applicants to win the DIU contract, firms must offer commercially available products that require minimal or no additional development. Furthermore, the product must be in the form of a handheld device. The device needs to be compact and lightweight, as to not add any significant weight to the soldier’s gear.
Some of the alternatives offered include using inertial navigation, radio frequency navigation, and optical navigation.
Similarly, the Army is running a separate program called the Mounted Assured Positioning, Navigation, and Timing System (MAPS), where the Army is looking to buy and install non-GPS navigation systems in the force’s ground vehicles. The MAPS and DAPS program used to be under the same office, but eventually split to become two separate programs.
Collin Aerospace Systems have won a contract to produce a prototype device for the MAPS program. The company will deliver the prototype device to the Army where it will be evaluated over the next year. If the Army is satisfied with the device, it will place a larger order from the company.
The endgame goal of the Army is to develop a device that utilizes GPS and non-GPS navigation. All this to effectively increase soldier’s navigation capabilities, both on foot and in vehicles.