In an era defined by technological warfare and geopolitical uncertainty, safeguarding a nation's security has never been more paramount. Critical to the functioning of defence technology infrastructure is assured PNT (Positioning, Navigation, and Timing), which enables accurate targeting, secure communication, and synchronised operations in situations where GNSS signals may be weak or disrupted.
In an interconnected world reliant on GNSS, having sovereign control over assured PNT data ensures reliable decision-making, strategic autonomy, and heightened combat efficiency in the face of emerging threats and security concerns. More than a strategic advantage, it is the key to bolstering and safeguarding national security.
Paradigm shift in sovereign assured PNT
Advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), automation and precision engineering are causing a seismic shift across the landscape of sovereign defence manufacturing. Traditional manufacturing techniques are insufficient to meet the complex demands of modern PNT systems.
Until recently, little had been concretely achieved in the space of AI for navigation applications. Industries have traditionally been relying on an algorithm developed in the 1960s, called the Kalman filter, for guidance and navigation applications. However, this algorithm faced limitations in correcting certain errors in the process of determining an object’s position, such as biases, scale-factor errors, instabilities and noises.
In 2012, Advanced Navigation entered the assured PNT space by commercialising a fusion Artificial Neural Network (ANN) from university research. Equipped with self-learning capabilities, ANN is able to convert inputs from various sensors into better resulting outputs as more data becomes available over time. By recognising patterns in large amounts of data, it introduces faster sensor error detection and tracking and more superior integrity monitoring compared to the Kalman filter. This allows assured PNT systems to use previous data to identify and compensate for sensor drift, causing accuracy to improve over time. It also leads to superior control and the ability for the vehicle to react to its surroundings without human intervention, for example, collision avoidance and performing actions based on recognition of an object of type.
This AI-based filtering technology has made significant breakthroughs, pushing assured PNT into a new era. Today, ANN is built into an array of hardware offerings, including micro-electromechanical systems, fibre-optic gyroscope inertial navigation systems, inertial measurement units and others. The applications for these systems in the defence sector are undeniably vast.
Automated precision with vertical integration
In the context of PNT systems, precision and reliability are non-negotiable. Automated manufacturing processes excel in delivering these attributes, providing components that function impeccably even in the harshest conditions.
Advanced Navigation is the only Australian company manufacturing assured PNT solutions through high-quality vertical integration. The approach encompasses various stages of the PNT system development - from design to quality testing to manufacturing - under a unified framework. This streamlines processes, enhances quality control, and ensures agility in adapting to evolving threats.
Advanced quality control mechanisms, including real-time monitoring and machine vision, can detect defects at the early stage of production. This approach ensures only components meeting the highest standards are integrated into the navigation system, enhancing overall reliability, quality and longevity.
Australia's forward trajectory
The Australian government is showing commitment by offering grants, financial incentives and partnership to support the growth of domestic manufacturing sectors. Collaborative
initiatives between government agencies, academic institutions, and industry leaders are also propelling innovation and knowledge exchange. These joint efforts serve as incubators for cutting-edge technologies and are critical for building Australia’s manufacturing excellence.
As Australia embarks on the path towards heightened self-reliance in PNT, the fusion of automated precision, AI, vertical integration, and innovation will form the bedrock for the nation's sovereign assured capabilities. These technological strides will not only strengthen Australia’s national security but also allow us to trailblaze the future of defence manufacturing on the global stage.