Everyone knows that a GPS is as fundamental a piece of drone equipment as props. It is one of the predominant feedback mechanism to tell the drone where it is in 3D space. The problem is that many use-cases of drones are in GPS-denied environments, rendering the drone useless. Fly your drone close to a building? You’re in dangerous territory and may be glitching your navigation that keeps your drone in the sky.

Luckily, many people are working on GPS denied navigation for all you cave flying endeavors. One such example of said work can be seen at BYU.

Whether it’s because of jammed signals or the need to navigate caves and underground networks, drones that rely only on GPS often become worthless in war zones.

Closer to home, the budding markets of drone package delivery and infrastructure inspection need to be able to operate even when GPS signals drop or become weak (known as degradation) as UAVS fly in close proximity to buildings and obstacles.

Fortunately, BYU research into “GPS-denied environments” is producing a new breed of fixed-wing UAVs that can navigate effectively when GPS signals are intermittent, interrupted, degraded or altogether nonexistent.

“GPS was and is a great enabler for unmanned aircraft,” said Tim McLain, BYU professor of mechanical engineering. “But GPS is not a perfect sensor and unmanned aircraft have been too dependent on it. Until there is a more robust sensing strategy, we need to find solutions to work around it.”

Link to the story can be found here.