New stamp-sized GPS module claims to be spoof-proof

From the LA Times. The product datasheet is here. Does anyone know how they achieve the GPS spoofing protection?

LAS VEGAS -- Two of the major challenges the government faces in attempting to allow thousands of small drones into U.S. airspace are knowing where the aircraft are in relation to other aircraft flying nearby and making sure they're safe from hacker attacks.

Rockwell Collins Inc.  believes it has addressed both concerns with a device that's slightly larger than a postage stamp.

The company's unassuming MicroGRAM device promises to provide precise and secure GPS technology for the kind of small drones that police agencies want to use to spot runaway criminals.

"It's the smallest device out there with this kind of capability," said Dave Schreck, Rockwell's director of unmanned aerial systems and control technologies.

MicroGRAM has been in production since March, but Rockwell spoke about its capabilities Tuesday at this week's Assn. for Unmanned Vehicle Systems trade show in Las Vegas. Hundreds of robot makers have gathered here to show off their wares.

The device provides anti-jamming and anti-spoofing protection. So if a hacker tries to commandeer the drone by sending false GPS signals to trick the aircraft's receiver -- like what was recentlydemonstrated at University of Texas  at Austin -- the ne'er-do-wells will be locked out.

Drone hacking is a concern that has risen ever since the government revealed plans to integrate drones into U.S. airspace by 2015.

Rockwell's MicroGRAM is currently on drones built by AeroVironment Inc. of Monrovia, the nation's biggest supplier of small robotic planes.

"When people see how small it is, I hear them gasp," said Trevor Overton, Rockwell's MicroGRAM program manager. "We think this device provides the kind of capabilities that the unmanned aircraft community is interested in."

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Comment by David on August 10, 2012 at 12:59pm

SAASM units decode an encrypted signal known as y-code or p(y)-code, which will ultimately be replaced by m-code in the next block of satellites.

Essentially, without the y-code encryption, the spoofed nav signals are more or less garbage to the receiver.  Note that this doesn't solve jamming as much as spoofing (note that the datasheet only claims "extended performance in a jamming environment").

Comment by Pbreed on August 10, 2012 at 1:07pm

Note that without the current "Secret"  encryption keys this module does not work. So useless to non military users.....

Comment by Jack Crossfire on August 10, 2012 at 2:15pm

The phone has had it a lot smaller for years.  Sort of sad to see Rockwell trying to find any edge it can in what can't compete with consumer electronics.

Comment by Mark Colwell on August 10, 2012 at 2:23pm

I would but a $80 civilian gps from them if offered.

Comment by Squalish on August 10, 2012 at 2:58pm
Not *only* useless to non-military users, also useless to the vast majority of military users, who have always had the option of using encrypted codes technically, but bureaucratically, distribution of the codes was such a secret that it was limited to only the highest-priority uses, not viable for mere spyplanes.
Comment by Richard on August 11, 2012 at 2:40am

Silly, it's no more spoof-proof than any other military-grade GPS device that has the encryption keys.
- It might be smaller than existing encrypted units though, which would be interesting to the USA military but not for anybody else.

The way to be "spoof-proof" is to also multiple data sources for positioning, instead of assuming that any particular source is "definitely accurate".

So, compare the position calculated by IMU dead-reckoning to the GPS, visual-flow and pure vision (ground looks like this, fixed stars look like that) systems.

You need that lot anyway to handle GPS jamming (which is so easy that people do it by accident), so why not use it to spot spoofing?


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