On a rainy afternoon in March, technology developers gathered to show their latest position, navigation and timing (PNT) solutions. There were no traditional marketing brochures, trade show booths or giveaway trinkets. Instead, these developers—from big industry, tech startups and academia alike—were there to demonstrate emerging capabilities and get feedback directly from the operators who may one day use the technology on the battlefield if their GPS is ever jammed, tricked or dropped.
To carry out the event, organizers found a former Indiana state hospital, now a National Guard base with a 1,000-acre urban training complex that developers could use to assess their PNT technologies. They trekked through concrete subterranean tunnels, filled with several inches of water, weaving for 1.5 miles under structures that were both abandoned and still in use. They drove across rocky terrain, on paved roads with traffic circles and overpasses, and through mock villages. They navigated their way on foot through an old prison complex, a collapsed parking garage and a five-story hospital. A variety of scenarios brought the technology to life, providing the next step in assessing it beyond a PowerPoint presentation or white paper.
Dubbed a technical experimentation, this event was one of several that occur throughout the year to rapidly assess the technical maturity and possible use of new or emerging technology based on specifically identified areas of need.