Jul 2020 | No Comment

NIST seeks public input on use of PNT services

To bolster the resilience of the Global Positioning System (GPS) and the wide scope of technologies and services that rely on precision timing, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is requesting information from the public about the broad use of positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) services, as well as the cybersecurity risk management approaches used to protect them.

The request, posted in the Federal Register, is part of NIST’s response to the Feb. 12, 2020, Executive Order 13905, Strengthening National Resilience Through Responsible Use of Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Services.

The order notes that “the widespread adoption of PNT services means disruption or manipulation of these services could adversely affect U.S. national and economic security. To strengthen national resilience, the Federal Government must foster the responsible use of PNT services by critical infrastructure owners and operators.”

This request, aimed primarily at technology vendors and users of PNT services, contains questions designed to elicit a wide-ranging picture of how PNT is used across different sectors of the economy. NIST will use the answers to inform the creation of a profile document intended to improve the resilience of PNT technologies and services. This document will join the growing list of profiles made to help apply the NIST Cybersecurity Framework to particular economic sectors, such as manufacturing, the power grid and the maritime industry.  NIST is accepting responses to the request until July 13, 2020.

Russia’s Glonass contractor to develop Angosat-2 satellite for Angola

The work to develop and launch the Angosat-2 telecoms satellite for Angola to replace its predecessor Angosat-1 that is out of order has been assigned to the Reshetnev Information Satellite Systems Company, the Energia Space Rocket Corporation (the satellite’s previous developer) said.

According to the document, the Reshetnev Company will also assume all the rights and obligations for stating, maintaining and formalizing the rights to orbital frequency assignments. In addition, the Energia Space Rocket Corporation will transfer allocated but unspent funds for the satellite’s development to the Reshetnev Company.

The Angolan side recognized the Angosat-1 telecoms satellite as unserviceable. At the same time, Energia reported that Russia and Angola had agreed on making the Angosat-2 satellite instead of the lost space vehicle. The Russian side will also provide C- and Ku-band frequency resources to Angola for communications while the second satellite is being manufactured.

High accuracy to even more drones and GNSS receivers

MakeItAccurate, the global GNSS data correction and processing service from Klau Geomatics, now supports more drones and more hardware. In addition to the DJI RTK units, “PPK” drones (such as Delair, Wingtra, Quantum, Intel and more) logging raw GNSS data, are now supported, making drone operations even simpler.

Operations flying in remote areas or BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) often struggle with availability of CORS data or deploying base stations for RTK or PPK corrections within range of the mission. This service allows users to operate without the need to run a base station or source CORS data; no matter where they are on the planet.

Low-cost, high-accuracy GPS-like system

Roboticists at the University of California, San Diego, USA have developed an affordable, easy to use system to track the location of flexible surgical robots inside the human body. The system performs as well as current state of the art methods, but is much less expensive. Many current methods also require exposure to radiation, while this system does not. The system was developed by Tania Morimoto, a professor of mechanical engineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego, and mechanical engineering Ph.D. student Connor Watson.

The researchers embedded a magnet in the tip of a flexible robot that can be used in delicate places inside the body, such as arterial passages in the brain. “We worked with a growing robot, which is a robot made of a very thin nylon that we invert, almost like a sock, and pressurize with a fluid which causes the robot to grow,” Watson said. Because the robot is soft and moves by growing, it has very little impact on its surroundings, making it ideal for use in medical settings.

The researchers then used existing magnet localization methods, which work very much like GPS, to develop a computer model that predicts the robot’s location. GPS satellites ping smartphones and based on how long it takes for the signal to arrive, the GPS receiver in the smartphone can determine where the cell phone is. Similarly, researchers know how strong the magnetic field should be around the magnet embedded in the robot. They rely on four sensors that are carefully spaced around the area where the robot operates to measure the magnetic field strength. Based on how strong the field is, they are able to determine where the tip of the robot is.

The whole system, including the robot, magnets and magnet localization setup, costs around $100. Morimoto and Watson went a step further. They then trained a neural network to learn the difference between what the sensors were reading and what the model said the sensors should be reading. As a result, they improved localization accuracy to track the tip of the robot.



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