Plextek Consulting has created a battery-powered, video-based tracking technique, which would enable soldiers to track their movements within a GPS-denied environment. The project, announced today (9 January 2014) is funded by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory’s (Dstl) Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) in the UK.
Traditionally, inertial navigation systems (INS) comprising of gyroscopes and accelerometers are used to estimate position when global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) such as GPS is not available. However, even expensive inertial navigation systems produce a positional error, which drifts by as much as several hundreds of metres per hour from the true position.
The challenge faced by Plextek Consulting’s Defence Group was overcoming these positional errors with a solution that could also achieve a desirable system size, weight, power and cost for deployment as an aid to a dismounted soldier.
To achieve these goals Plextek Consulting researched alternative methods and technology to suit the military and defence landscape, and instead developed a solution combining a COTS optical sensor and advanced image processing techniques to form a composite optical navigation system.
The end result is a flexible tracking system that can be used on its own or combined with a conventional INS to yield a highly-accurate solution to navigation in GNSS-denied environments.
Nicholas Hill, Plextek’s Director, Defence and Security commented on the project: “This project has resulted in an innovative, state-of-the-art defence technology to meet the precise requirements of soldiers operating in a very difficult and high-risk environment. It’s a perfect example of Plextek Consulting’s ability to solve technically complex challenges within competitive project timescales and budget constraints.
He continued: “Our innovative culture, which encourages the cross-pollination of ideas, coupled with many years experience of successfully exploiting commercial technologies into defence applications, means we’re ideally placed to add value in many of the current problem areas facing the defence industry.”
Andy Nicholson, Head of CDE and Supplier Engagement at Dstl, said: “Through CDE, we fund research into novel, high-risk, high-potential-benefit innovations to enable development of cost-effective military capability advantage. Plextek Consulting is an enthusiastic innovative SME which has been successful in a number of CDE funding competitions, which have helped the company expand its networks across the defence industry.”