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Inside Unmanned Systems
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July 31, 2013

Exit Interview: GPS Directorate’s Col. Bernie Gruber

Last month, USAF Col. Bernard Gruber stepped down after three years of running the Global Positioning Systems Directorate at Los Angeles Air Force Base.

The GPS Directorate, originally established in 1974 as the NAVSTAR GPS Joint Program Office, is responsible for development, acquisition, fielding and sustainment of all GPS space segments: the modernized operational control segment (OCX), the next-generation GPS III satellites, and modernized GPS user equipment (MGUE).

July 30, 2013

FAA Approves Two UAS Type Certificates

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued restricted category type certificates to a pair of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), a milestone that will lead to the first approved commercial UAS operations later this summer.

Issuing the type certificates is an important step toward the FAA’s goal of integrating UAS into the nation’s airspace.  FAA officials announced the action last Friday (July 26, 2013).

July 26, 2013

Boeing Names New Director of GPS Programs

Dudley Barnfield has joined the Boeing Government Space Systems (GSS) leadership team as director of the GPS programs.  He will have oversight for the entire GPS portfolio, which includes the GPS IIF program and alternate architecture initiatives.

July 25, 2013

Safety Board Says Connected Vehicle Technology Should Be Required to Prevent Collisions

In a Tuesday (July 23, 2013) hearing on two fatal school bus/truck collisions, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended adoption of “connected vehicle technology” on all newly manufactured highway vehicles as a way to reduce such accidents.

Such collision-avoidance systems — similar to those used in civil aviation — would typically depend on real-time transmissions of the GNSS-derived locations of nearby vehicles to provide enhanced “situational awareness” to drivers.

July 22, 2013

GPS III Prototype Arrives at Cape Canaveral

Lockheed Martin has delivered a full-sized, functional prototype of the next generation GPS satellite to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The GPS III Non-Flight Satellite Testbed (GNST) arrived at the Cape on July 19 where it will be used to test facilities and pre-launch processes in advance of the arrival of the first GPS III flight satellites, which will undergo similar testing. The first flight GPS III satellite is expected to arrive at Cape Canaveral in 2014, ready for launch by the U.S. Air Force in 2015.

Inside GNSS • July/August 2013


Sometimes GNSS spoofing seems a bit like UFOs: much speculation, occasional alarms at suspected instances, but little real-world evidence of its existence.

As far back as 2001, a U.S. Department of Transportation Volpe Center report suggested that as GPS further penetrates into the civil infrastructure, “it becomes a tempting target that could be exploited by individuals, groups or countries”.

Inside GNSS • July/August 2013

Location, Location, Location

In a part of the world where frustrated drivers will park anywhere, including squarely on a sidewalk, a local newspaper is using location data to shame car owners into shaping up.

The Village, a Russian online publication serving Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kiev; created a free app that notes a badly parked vehicle’s make, color, and license plate information when users snap its picture.

Inside GNSS • July/August 2013

GNSS Hotspots

Boulder, Colorado USA

Thinking Aloud • July/August 2013

Phones, Drones and Privacy

Every breath you take . . .
Every move you make
Every step you take
I’ll be watching you

I originally planned on titling this column, “Waiting to Inhale,” recalling these lyrics and an editorial I wrote more than four years ago about my sense of relief at the departure of the second Bush administration.

I called that one, “Waiting to Exhale.”

July 17, 2013

FAA and Defense Department Work to Fix Civil GPS Funding

Federal officials are working to fill a funding shortfall nearly certain to occur next year given that both the House and Senate have cut an already halved budget request for GPS civil funding.

Sources confirm the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) are in talks about finding money to make up for the dramatic reduction. One source familiar with the situation said the FAA was searching its accounts for resources to address the loss.

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