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Remarks: Deputy Assistant Secretary Hampshire, Complementary PNT Industry Roundtable

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Hello everyone, I am Dr. Robert Hampshire, I’m the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology and Chief Science Officer here at US DOT. Welcome everyone to Washington DC, and welcome to those attending virtually. I thank you all for your time today. 

My office works at the dynamic intersection of new and emerging technologies, transportation data, policy, research and all modes of transportation across the Department. We’re responsible for technology activities, and research and development for the entire department.

We also engage in complex issues related to the enabling technologies behind transportation’s future, like artificial intelligence, vehicle automation, and the reason why we’re here— Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) and the global positioning system.

We recognize that PNT services are critical to the safe and efficient use of the national transportation system by the traveling public, the freight community, other commercial and private entities, as well as Federal users of the roads, rails, waterways, and airspace within the United States.

We also recognize that PNT services are foundational and essential throughout many, if not all, sectors of the economy. More specifically, we recognize our civil leadership role in helping to ensure accurate and reliable sources of PNT systems, as well as ensuring these systems are available to meet current and emerging applications and supporting infrastructures.

So, I want to start with reaffirming our commitment to not only our role, but also to the PNT resilience framework.
This work and this commitment come at a very important and pivotal point especially for transportation. This includes this Administration passing and implementing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law—which is the largest investment ever made towards this nation’s infrastructure. This is a huge deal in terms of technology deployments and advanced research but also as the name implies infrastructure—including PNT and resilience.

PNT technology research and development are vital to the safety and efficacy of all transportation modes—and also vital to not just our departmental goals, but the administrative goals and priorities. Critical infrastructure sectors such as communication, banking, the electric grid, and dams rely on the promise of improved accuracy and resilience of PNT technologies.
Our mission is intrinsically linked to PNT and specifically to GPS capability as critical enablers—when you think about things such as connected and automated vehicles as an example.
We also know as GPS technology advances, the number of threats to the system increase and we need to take the bullseye off of GPS.

In order to do that, we must have BOTH a robust set of PNT services AND the adoption of those services by critical infrastructure operators.

Recognizing these threats, Federal agencies - including DOT and DHS - were tasked with making sure that disruption or manipulation of PNT services does not undermine the reliable and efficient functioning of its critical infrastructure. I know we as an agency and within my department are reinforcing this through:

  • Increased awareness and evaluation of the impact of GPS vulnerabilities
  • The need to protect spectrum from harmful interference and implement a nationwide GPS interference detection and monitoring capability
  • Exploring complementary sources of PNT and facilitating adoption of these technologies into end user applications to increase resiliency for safety-critical transportation applications 
  • And coordinating research on new technologies to address emerging PNT needs across all modes of transportation 

All of which falls in line with the Protect, Toughen and Augment (PTA) priorities—which this Space-Based PNT Advisory developed and has embraced.

As part of my portfolio within OST-R to conduct this work, I have the PNT & Spectrum Management program led by Karen Van Dyke, the Volpe Center with a wealth of PNT expertise, the Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office, and the Highly Automated Systems Safety Center of Excellence. I also oversee the University Transportation Center program and DOT has specifically stood up a UTC focused on PNT resiliency for automated vehicles, known as CARMEN – the Center for Automated Vehicles Research with Multimodal Assured Navigation. 

In order to realize the benefits of a resilient, innovative, and more robust system, our priority is to ensure that the services continue to remain available and safe to an ever-growing community of users.

Again, we within DOT will continue to actively advocate on behalf of the civil user community and continue to champion this work to protect and modernize the GPS enterprise in partnership with the Department of Defense, as well as defend and advocate for these vital services.
One is to reimagine and rethink—what works and what doesn’t and then leverage that to ensure we are creating a system that can shape our future for generations.

Two, think about the ways in which we are engaging—strengthening or deepening partnerships and making sure we are looking at integrated technical solutions.

And finally, we should lean into research, technologies and investments that push the boundary of what’s possible – innovations that help us achieve our goals, grow our economy, unlock creativity and entrepreneurship to meet current and future needs for PNT.

I recognize we have a lot of work ahead of us, and today I hope you will find the conversations not only meaningful, but engaging, and “actionable”.  I look forward to hearing from you today, and your insights on how we can expeditiously deploy a robust and resilient complementary PNT system for this Nation.

Again, thank you for taking part in this critical work. I really appreciate the opportunity to address this group.