Rockwell Collins reports breakthrough in micro GPS

Smaller technology will allow for embedding in munitions

Dave DeWitte
Published: January 15 2013 | 10:17 am - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 10:05 am in

GPS navigation could be appearing in a new generation of tiny devices such as hummingbird-sized unmanned aerial vehicles, Rockwell Collins said Tuesday.

The prediction is based on the findings of Rockwell Collins research with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

A DARPA project has created tiny electronic oscillators, which function as miniature clocks. Rockwell Collins has been testing them on global positioning system radios as part of DARPA's Dynamics Enabled Frequency Sources effort.

“Never before has a microscale oscillator been able to acquire and track GPS,” said John Borghese, vice president of the Rockwell Collins Advanced Technology Center, in a statement issued by the company.

Borghese said the capability "opens a new frontier in embedding GPS in very small items."

The oscillators are nearly 30 times smaller than what is currently used on GPS receivers and consume 320 times less power. They are 30 times more stable under extreme vibration, Rockwell Collins said.

The tiny devices could be embedded in munitions and unmanned aerial vehicles and other devices that require reduced size, weight, power consumption and cost, Rockwell Collins said.

Rockwell Collins has produced more than 50 GPS products and delivered more than a million GPS receivers for commercial avionics and government applications in its history, the company said.

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