Expert Opinions: UAV PNT commercial requirements

Q: What different requirements for UAV PNT performance will be seen as the market shifts from a military focus to commercial uses and users?

Neil Gerein, Portfolio Manager,NovAtel: PNT accuracy, availability and assurance will increase in importance. UAV payloads for military applications routinely require precise PNT information to geolocate sensor data for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. High-end commercial applications for survey and mapping will require similarly high levels of accuracy and availability. As commercial UAV operations enter the national airspace, PNT assurance levels will increase with the need for GNSS receivers designed for safety critical applications.

Jay Napoli, Vice President, KVH Industries: Whether for military or commercial use, the accuracy requirements of a UAV’s positioning, navigation and timing system depend on the UAV’s size/weight, the mission duration and complexity, and the information being gathered. Commercial UAV applications such as mobile survey, mapping, surveillance and virtual imagery real-time overlays require higher levels of accuracy, particularly for UAVs in urban or heavily populated areas with tight restrictions. Many higher-end UAV accuracy requirements dictate the use of FOG-based inertial systems.

Christian Ramsey, UAS Program Manager, Harris Critical Networks: As the growth of small UAS operations increase in the National Airspace System, it will be interesting to track how PNT standards and certifications evolve in order to adapt to a more versatile UAV aircraft certification system. Likely a tiered system will be required to map PNT requirements for lower risk, lower accuracy and lower cost applications to higher risk systems or those which require higher precision due to their mission profiles.