Moonlighting Truck Drivers Source of GPS Jamming in the UK

18 Jun 2013

New research suggests GPS jamming in the UK is caused by truck drivers who are moonlighting, or working graveyard shifts.

The jamming of GPS signals and devices is putting shipping and aviation industries at risk because they are unable to access the GPS tracking and GPS navigation technology. Truck and van drivers who moonlight in the UK are now suspected of being to blame for the constant jamming due to their use of cheap scanners. The survey pointing to these results was conducted by the Technology Strategy Board’s Sentinel Project.

There is a growing concern about incidents of global navigation satellite system (GNSS) jamming throughout the UK, with as many as 100 dangerous incidents that occur each day at one of the busiest UK airports alone. This doesn’t even make a dent in all the GPS and GNSS incidents occurring.

Engineers who aided in the research noticed the incidents occurred more often during the week and in the middle of the night, rather than the weekend. This eliminated other factors that could have caused all the interferences, such as solar weather events.

Because they were occurring in the middle of the week, researchers began looking into commercial vehicles that are being used around the same time the satellite interferences were taking place. This isn’t just work-related truck drivers, but moonlighters who are doing activities in the middle of the night who are purposely interfering with tracking satellite systems.

“The pattern of behaviour suggests it is likely to be civilian-sourced jamming and most likely the evasion of tracking within commercial vehicles for moonlighting activities or for other non-work purposes,” Charles Curry, the project head and founder of Chronos Technology said.

After figuring out commercial trucks and vans were to blame, the assumption was that people are using delivery vans in the middle of the night for unauthorized purposes and using satellite jammers so that they cannot be caught or tracked down. However, while blocking the trackers of these delivery vans, they are also blocking GPS and GNSS satellite systems throughout the UK.

The jammers suspected of being used are available throughout the UK with a 12-volt GPS jammer being inexpensive which leads credence to the use of these devices.

“Even the cheapest ones [jammers] available online can cause complete outages of the receiver signal,” Dr. Chaz Dixon, Stavog project manager, told reporters.

Authorities in the UK have some new developments for mitigating the use of GPS jammers.

They are working on a jamming-proof satellite receiving system for industries like shipping and aviation so they can continue operating even if jammers continue being used on British roads. There is also controlled reception patterns antennas (CRPA) technology to help with mitigating the jamming technology for the military. This new research comes as a great relief to industries affected by the constant jamming of satellite tracking devices.

Meanwhile, here in the good ole USA, GPS jamming is illegal, so a GPS jamming tip line has been set up to help make it easier to report suspected GPS jammers

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