ASIO Technologies from Rosh-Ha’ayin, Israel, has disclosed it is integrating its NavGuard optical navigation systems into the drone platforms of a new US defense customer. NavGuard is a navigation system for tactical drones based solely on optical sensors, thus eliminating the dependency on GPS that exposes it to jamming attacks. Launched earlier this year, ASIO supplies the system to the IDF – directly and through drones’ manufacturers.
Jamming is one of the most significant weak spots of military drones, who base their navigation on GPS for location and orientation in air. However, as the GPS signals arrive from remote satellites, they are easily jammed. There are two methods for signals jamming: transmission of strong signals that mask the original satellite signals and thus prevent their reception or transmission of false signals that send wrong information, causing the receiver to “think” that it is somewhere else.
There are few electric protection systems on the market designed to block jamming transmissions. Asio offers complete immunity against jamming through a navigation system that relies on optical navigation rather than GPS. NavGuard is based on day and night cameras who provide real time visual sensing of the drone’s surroundings. In order to understand the geographic location of the drone, the system compares the visual information from the cameras with a 3D map of the mission area, sets the location of the drone relative to the map, and provides the vessel’s command and control unit with the coordinates in a GPS format.
For instance, if the drone flies over the Azrieli towers, the system will be able to identify this landmark on the map and “understand” the location coordinates of the drone. The optical navigation system can be used as a backup for GPS-based navigation system or as the primary system.
In a conversation with Techtime, David Harel, ASIO’s CEO, says that NavGuard is a unique solution in the tactical drones’ world: “There are similar systems designed for fighter planes, battleships and armored fighting vehicles, but they are heavy and expensive. Asio managed to develop a light-weight solution that meets the tactical drone’s requirements.” In order to adjust the system for additional platforms, Asio is currently developing smaller versions of the system for various flight outlines.
Harel: “Our system increase the drone’s latitude and the operational confidence in completing the mission. We see tremendous interest in this solution, and it even increased following the war in Ukraine, where drones are heavily used”.
Currently, Asio supplies its solution to the military market, but according to Harel, the jamming threat is relevant for the commercial drones, as well: “This problem worries the whole drones market, not only the military one. As soon as shipment of commercial packages will start to fly over populated areas – there will be a need for jamming solution”.