The unique PNT challenges of UAVs | Panda Anku

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) deployed in combat environments require a constant source of time and position information, either from satellite signals or backup sources, to ensure continuous operation and transmission of sensor data. These aircraft typically use an onboard clock that is synchronized with GPS satellite signals.

However, losing the signals needed for positioning and navigation, even for a moment, could become dangerous or jeopardize the mission. Therefore, a time source backup must be in place to ensure the UAV navigation system can continue to function normally before it can reconnect to a satellite signal. Ideally, the backup timing source should be able to hold longer periods of time while still maintaining the same level of accuracy as a locked phase.

Why is it important

Modern UAVs are used for more and more mission-critical applications. Whether for reconnaissance or defense, these unmanned aerial vehicles need to send sensor data back to command and control centers or ground forces, and their uninterrupted operation is essential to successful missions and situational awareness.

Often the UAVs must fly in contested areas that can be vulnerable to signal attacks that can seriously compromise their ability to receive satellite signals, making the need for a robust time source even more important.

The DOD recognizes the growing need for safe, trusted unmanned aerial vehicles in direct support of combatants, particularly for their ability to provide on-demand intelligence and reconnaissance capabilities in contested battlefields.

innovative solutions

Robust mRO-50 rubidium oscillator | DATA SHEET

The easiest way to ensure that your UAV’s navigation system receives a constant time signal is to integrate the robust mRO-50. The robust mRO-50 is a more robust version of the mRO-50 rubidium oscillator, offering a full day’s hold time with 1 μs accuracy. Its extremely low SWAP form factor (size, weight and power) makes it fit easily into any UAV model type and withstands intense vibration and temperature environments. Perhaps the most notable feature of this tiny but incredibly accurate atomic clock is that it consumes just 0.36W of power, which is 10 times less than existing solutions with similar capabilities.

The mRO-50 oscillator can also be used as a time base for a UAV’s inertial navigation system. If the UAV loses a connection with the satellite signals and needs to return to its INS, the mRO-50 can reliably provide time information to the INS.

Finally, when your UAV needs to communicate with ground stations and transmit sensor data such as images or videos, the ruggedized mRO-50 has proven itself to provide accurate timestamps via encrypted waveforms. This mRO-50 technology allows these waveforms to be constantly synchronized and stabilized.


When you need a complete positioning, navigation and timing solution for your UAV, VersaPNT is the ideal solution. The VersaPNT is designed to support UAVs performing a critical task that requires GPS backup – which cannot afford the risk of system failure due to intentional or unintentional GPS disruption. The robust mRO-50 rubidium oscillator controls the VersaPNT and is included in the navigation system. The VersaPNT combines a GNSS receiver, inertial measurement technology, and high performance timing oscillators to provide Assured PNT in GNSS compromised and denied environments.

The Orolia Difference

  • Easy UAV integration – Both the VersaPNT and the Ruggedized mRO-50 Rubidium Oscillator can be easily embedded in a UAV as they are designed to support mobile applications. The VersaPNT can sit on board the UAV, and the mRO-50 can be connected to a UAV’s existing navigation system.
  • Robust – Adding a secure, robust timing system that can be used for navigation and positioning in the event GPS is momentarily lost makes your UAV more resilient.
  • Low SWaP-C – The mRO-50 occupies less than 51cc volume (about 1/3 the volume compared to standard Rubidium) and consumes only 0.36W of power.
  • Robust – The ruggedized mRO-50 and the VersaPNT are designed for harsh environments (protection class IP67).
  • Proven in practice – The Orolia mRO-50 rubidium oscillator and inertial sensors onboard the VersaPNT have been rigorously tested for over 10 years.

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