Blog Editor’s Note: PNT is a worry for all navigation systems and navigators, especially for systems like drones and interconnected vehicles. This issue has not had a lot of public visibility in this industry. This may be partly due to an expectation that government will eventually solve the problem, and partly to engineers in other fields learning more about navigation.

French Space Agency Conference: “PNT: A Cyber Worry for Intelligent Transport Systems”


At a recent conference sponsored by the French space agency CNES, positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) concerns for autonomous vehicles and intelligent transportation systems were highlighted.

According to Frederic Silva, ITS Business Development Director at Orolia who attended the conference, some of the more interesting outcomes from the conference included:

  • Autonomous cars were expected to become available in France by 2020-2022. This means a technical, secure legal framework and regulation will be required for enforcement
  • For the first time at an automotive conference, GNSS vulnerabilities, including jamming and spoofing, were a cyber risk that would require vulnerability tests and protection solutions
  • The French space agency planned to partner with Thales Avionique, Guide GNSS, M3 Systems and Oktal-SE to develop a database that can generate any kind of GNSS vulnerabilities scenario. The objective will be to provide GNSS cybersecurity systems and services to the transportation industry.

Methods for improving PNT included:

  • using more constellations like Galileo with better precision and for more satellite availability
  • using RTK stations to compensate for PNT errors
  • increasing redundancy using V2X, other sensors
  • adding protections against interference and hacking

Orolia representatives attended the conference as part of the company’s ongoing interest in combatting the cybersecurity risks associated with jamming and spoofing.  “Orolia is highly focused on delivering resilient PNT systems, solutions and services to Aerospace, Defense and Government (ADG) and to critical commercial infrastructures,” said Jean-Yves Courtois, CEO of Orolia.

Additional reading: At last week’s ION GNSS+ conference in Miami, Fla., cybersecurity was discussed during many of the presentations. For more on the topic, read: Security and SatNav Experts Agree: GPS Is a Cybersecurity Issue

Europe has shown increasing interest in addressing GNSS resilience issues recently.

  • Since 2016 the EU’s STRIKE3 project has been collecting data on hundreds of thousands of interference incidents with an eye to establishing a method of testing GNSS receiver performance.
  • Last year the European Commission implemented a Radio Equipment Directive requiring GNSS receivers to be able to resist interference.
  • The commission also has an Alternative PNT Project underway that is looking at DME performance, DME enhancements, LDACS NAV function and eLoran.

And we understand that the commission is holding a workshop on alternative PNT systems, or “GNSS backups,” early next month in Brussels.

Dana Goward is president of the Resilient Navigation & Timing Foundation and a regular contributor to Inside GNSS.

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