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“Will Fund eLoran on a Chip” – NIST

February 11, 2016

Last week the National Institute of Standards and Technology announced that it wanted to fund development of an eLoran receiver that would fit on a microchip and could be easily incorporated into a variety of systems.

The agency said its interest in this project was “… to help facilitate the broad dissemination of precise, accurate time standards and to provide robustness and resilience for critical cyber physical systems.” NIST is also responsible for the nation’s “Cyber Security Framework.”

In the announcement the agency explained the government’s concern and rationale (numbers indicate footnotes):

“The Global Positioning System (GPS) is used for a myriad of innovative—and now, essential—applications that were not envisioned when the system was first designed [1]. The Department of Homeland Security reports that of their 18 defined areas of U.S. critical infrastructure (e.g., communications, transportation, and energy), 16 of them rely on GPS for precision timing and synchronization in their system operations [2]. However, the GPS signal is exceedingly weak, and it is vulnerable to interference, both accidental and deliberate.

Programs have been proposed to provide resilience to the many modern cyber physical systems that rely on GPS for timing data. One that is often suggested is “eLoran,” which could augment GPS by providing a complementary data transmission channel for timing and more [3–8].”

The announcement was made as a part of NIST’s 2016 Small Business Innovative Research program. The funding opportunity to develop chip-scale eLoran receivers is described beginning on page 72.