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09 May 2024

Sponsored Story | Advanced Navigation: Bolstering Assured PNT For Defence Through Photonic Chips

Advanced Navigation Ltd
Sponsored Story | Advanced Navigation: Bolstering Assured PNT For Defence Through Photonic Chips

Photonic chips can process data at the speed of light without generating heat or losing energy, making them a more stable and energy-efficient solution than traditional electronic chips. In the context of Assured PNT (Positioning, Navigation, and Timing), photonic chips can empower extreme sensing precision in critical navigation devices, making them more immune to electromagnetic interference and decreasing the likelihood of being spoofed or jammed.

This capability helps nations with reliable decision-making, strategic autonomy, and heightened combat efficiency in the face of emerging threats. More than a strategic advantage, it is the key to bolstering national security.


Navigating New Frontiers With Photonics

A drive to innovate is occuring around the world, with AI-driven navigation and robotics manufacturer Advanced Navigation receiving funding from the Department of Defence to accelerate its manufacturing capability for photonic chips. The company uses the technology in its fibre-optic gyroscopes (FOG) inertial navigation systems (INS), which are recognised by global defence forces as a critical Assured PNT capability across navy, army and air force.

Manufacturing photonic chips is extremely challenging due to the intricate processes involved at a microscopic level. A new capability for Australia, Advanced Navigation plans to manufacture 45,000 photonic chips per year for global customers. It is also one of only four companies in the world to manufacture strategic-grade FOG components, and the only in the world to develop a completely digital FOG (DFOG), seen in its Boreas range.

Advanced Navigation’s Boreas D90 inertial navigation system


DFOG is Advanced Navigation’s patented technology. A culmination of 25 years of development involving two research institutions, it was created to meet the demand for smaller and more cost-effective FOGs, while increasing reliability and accuracy. DFOG combines closed-loop FOG with digital modulation techniques and a revolutionary photonic chip to offer higher performance, delivering a 40 per cent reduction in size, weight, power and cost (SWaP-C) over competitive products.


Shielding Against The Menace of Spoofing

There is now a proliferation of GNSS spoofing and jamming incidents. This has severe consequences for critical military missions and will continue to exacerbate with the ongoing geopolitical conflicts around the globe.

As such, defence primes are urged to move away from GNSS-only approaches and integrate Assured PNT solutions as a reliable counterpart. High-performance INS, such as Advanced Navigation’s DFOG, is a prime example. By assessing comprehensive data collected from multiple sensors, the system is able to identify spoofing and ignore it, ensuring the completeness, reliability and accuracy of data at any given time.

DFOG allows combat vehicles, uncrewed autonomous vehicles (UAV) and uncrewed ground vehicles (UGV) to reliably operate in environments where GNSS signals may be weak or disrupted. Specifically in military scenarios, DFOG provides an extra layer of protection that helps enable accurate navigation, secure communication and synchronised operations.


Achieving Manufacturing Scale With Automation and Vertical Integration

In the context of PNT systems, precision and reliability are non-negotiable. To guarantee product reliability, Advanced Navigation adopts a vertical integration framework, encompassing various stages of the photonics and DFOG INS system development, from design to quality testing to automated manufacturing. This streamlines processes, improves quality control, and ensures agility in adapting to evolving threats.

Utilising machine learning, Advanced Navigation’s automated manufacturing process delivers components that function in the most challenging conditions. Specifically, advanced quality control mechanisms, such as real-time monitoring and machine vision, can detect defects at the early stage of production. This ensures only components meeting the highest standards are integrated into the navigation system, enhancing overall reliability, quality and longevity.


Safeguarding National Security

There is a huge demand for autonomous operation in complex electronic warfare environments where GNSS signals are denied or greatly interfered. A booming sector globally, photonics is a key capability that will drive breakthroughs in electronic warfare, underpinning national security in a time defined by geopolitical uncertainty.

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