GPS News


Feb 2012 | No Comment


Warrant compulsory for GPS tracking: Supreme Court

The US Supreme Court ruled that police need a search warrant before tracking a suspect with a GPS device, in a case involving privacy and 21st century technology. The highest US court ruled 9-0 that police had violated the rights of a suspected drug dealer when they placed a GPS, or tracking device, on his vehicle without a warrant and tracked his movements.

The Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution provides guarantees against unreasonable search and seizure. “We hold that the government’s installation of a GPS device on a target’s vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle’s movements, constitutes a ‘search,'” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote.

The case was seen as an important test of how far police can go in using technology to investigate and track suspects. It drew wide interest from civil liberties groups amid concern that new technologies can be used to get around constitutional protections of privacy and other rights.

Chinese satellite navigation market to reach USD 35 bn

The annual output value of China’s satellite navigation industry will reach more than 225 billion yuan in 2015, according to a latest research report by the country’s National Administration ofSurveying, Mapping and Geoinformation. The report predicted the industry would become the country’s third new IT economic growth point, after mobile communication and Internet. More than 5,000 Chinese firms and organisations were now involved in the application and services of satellite navigation and the industry generated more than 50 billion yuan of output value in 2010, according to the report,
published by the Social Sciences Academic Press.

Experts to prepare common standards for SBAS

Programme managers and technical experts overseeing four of the world’s regional satellite navigation augmentation systems congregated in Munich, Germany, to participate in Satellite-Based Augmentation Systems (SBAS) Interoperability Working Group (IWG) meeting. It is pertinent to mention that there was not any representation from India’s GPS and Geo-Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) team in the IWG meeting.

During the meeting, experts compared status and performance of their systems, while also hearing observations from SBAS end-users such as airlines and aircraft manufacturers. They also discussed preparing future shared SBAS standards. Among the most important achievements of the two-day meeting was the preliminary definition of a common SBAS message based on dual GPS and Galileo signals, with an aim of extending coverage to achieve quasi-global service by 2020.

This meeting was the first to include representatives from four out of five SBAS – excepting only GAGAN – as well as additional partners such as Eurocontrol, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, promoting the adoption of EGNOS across Europe, promoting the adoption of EGNOS across Europe.

Russian navigation programme seeks private investment

Russian government refused to fund GLONASS programme because the GLONASS team failed to submit detailed report of the expenses they were planning. The funding programme was to be implemented by December 31, 2011, with the government approving a USD 10 billion draft back in autumn. Now they will have to seek private sources to fund the project.

The GLONASS team stated that the lack of funding may undermine the system’s image, which was itself extremely hard to develop. “In order to make GLONASS competitive, we need to constantly modernize and develop it,” said the deputy head of the project, Sergey Revnivykh. “It’s simply unprofitable to freeze the project now that its space segment is ready.”


GLONASS to be ‘mandatory’ for all new Russian cars

From 2013, all new Russian-made cars will be equipped with the ERA-GLONASS by default, according to Yaroslav Domaratskiy, Director of Customer Equipment R&D Centre at NIS-GLONASS. He added that all new cars to be sold from the beginning of 2013 must be equipped with a navigation and communication unit and an alarm button. Experts believe that in case of emergency GLONASS will locate the place of the accident, and transmit the data to a response centre.

Scientists find GPS most power consuming feature in phones

Computer scientists at the University of Texas at Austin and the Australian National University conducted the first systematic power profiles of microprocessors, which could help cut the power consumption of both small cell phones and giant data centres. “In terms of energy, the GPS is one of the most expensive functions on your phone. A bad algorithm might ping your GPS far more than is necessary for the application to function well. If the application writer could analyze the power profile, they would be motivated to write an algorithm that pings it half as often to save energy without compromising functionality,” stated Kathryn McKinley, professor of computer science at The University of Texas at Austin, US.

According to the scientists, this study may point the way to how companies like Google, Apple, Intel and Microsoft can make software and hardware that will lower the energy costs of very small and very large devices.

Commercial debut of Beidou leads to speculations in Taiwan

With the commercial debut of the China’s Beidou satellite navigation system, Chinese military can turn its dumb bombs into smart bombs, Taiwanese media reported. According to the report, one of the most lethal bombs is the Lei Shi-6 (LS-6) “Thunder Stone”, a precision-guided glide bomb, first unveiled by the Luoyang Optoelectro Technology Development Center in late 2006. It is similar to the US-developed Joint Attack Direct Munition (JDAM), which relies on US satellites for guidance.
However, the Taiwan Affairs Office last week denied the Beidou system would be used by the Chinese military and played down reports in Taiwan that the satellites posed a threat to the region.

Unlike laser-guided weapons, projectiles using navigation satellites for guidance can be used in any weather conditions. According to Chinese media, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force conducted a series of tests of the LS-6 on the Shenyang J-8B starting in 2006.

Military experts have said that while Taiwan spends more than USD 300 million per Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) fire unit and missiles, the production of guided bombs like as the LS-6 is substantially cheaper. The cost difference means that a far greater number of smart bombs can be built than Taiwan’s Patriot missile units can intercept, although this view does not take the other, less expensive, layers of Taiwan’s air defence architecture into account.

GPS app makes jobs just a phone away!

LocationValue, a Japanese placement agency, is using cellphones’ GPS feature to quickly match workers to temporary jobs, doing away with interviews and other formalities. Job applicants need to send the company their resumes and make requests about the times of the day and workplaces where they want to work, Kyodo news agency reported.

The firm locates the applicants, using the GPS built into their cellphones and promptly contacts prospective employers.

FCC, LightSquared face legal roadblocks

The recently enacted National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, signed by President Obama on December 31, 2011, can further delay LightSquared’s launch of a nationwide wireless data network. The clause, added to the 500-page bill at the bequest of Reps. Michael R. Turner (R-Ohio) and Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), prohibits the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from approving LightSquared’s request to begin commercial land-based operations until the FCC “has resolved concerns” about possible interference with military GPS systems.

The defence authorisation bill also orders the Secretary of Defense to conduct a review every 90 days on whether defence GPS devices will be affected by commercial radio transmissions on neighbouring bands. If DoD finds a problem, it must report to Congress on the devices affected, source of the interference and the cost of fixing the problem. The restrictions on LightSquared are not to be lifted, the act says, until the Defense Secretary “determines that commercial communications services are not causing any widespread harmful interference with covered GPS devices.”

FCC asks if GPS should be protected from Interference

The FCC has opened an Internet docket for public comment on the LightSquared position that GPS users and receivers “do not merit legal protection from interference” created by LightSquared. The FCC asks for comments by February 27. LightSquared asked the FCC in December to rule that GPS receivers and users “do not merit legal protection from interference” caused by the proposed wireless broadband service. Such interference has been amply demonstrated by comprehensive testing from May to October of last year. Opening the docket for public comment is the FCC’s way of fielding the LightSquared petition.

Defense and Transportation Dep Secs tell FCC to stop LightSquared

Ashton Carter, U.S. deputy secretary for defense, and John Porcari, deputy secretary for transportation, have written an official letter to the assistant secretary for commerce, stating that “there appear to be no practical solutions or mitigations that would permit the LightSquared broadband service.” Carter and Porcari are co-chairs of the National Executive Committee for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing. This represents the strongest intra-government statement to date on the issue.
Their letter further states that “both LightSquared’s original and modified plans for its proposed mobile network would cause harmul interference to many GPS receivers. Additionally, an analysis by the Federal Aviation Administration has concluded that the LightSquared proposals are not compatible with several GPS-dependent aircraft safety-of-flight systems.” “No additional testing is warranted at this time,” the authors conclude.

GPS tests were rigged, Lightsquared claims

LightSquared and former FCC chief engineer Edmond Thomas said the GPS test devices that were used by a government agency to test its new network were rigged by “manufacturers of GPS receivers and government end users to produce bogus results.” The company said that devices from GPS manufacturers, which have claimed LightSquared’s network interferes with GPS communications, were “cherry picked” in secret and that independent authorities were not allowed to partake or oversee the tests or test results. In addition, LightSquared said the tests focused on obsolete technology that is only used in “niche market devices” and that are “least able to withstand potential interference” from wireless networks.

After a list of the test devices was released to LightSquared, the company found that the only mass market device that reportedly failed the government’s tests — which were run by the National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing Executive Committee (PNT EXCOM) — actually “performed flawlessly during Technical Working Group” testing. The government also reportedly tested LightSquared’s network at a power level that is 32-times greater than the level at which it will actually operate.

Chinese satellite navigation system goes live

China flipped the switch on a satellite navigation system which will provide initial positioning, navigation, and timing operational services to China and the surrounding region, according to the state-run Xinhua News. The Beidou Navigation Satellite System is intended to replace China’s reliance on the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS). Officials starting building Beidou in 2000 and since then, the country has launched 10 satellites, the most recent of which went up in November, Xinhua said. Six more satellites will launch in 2012; work is not expected to be complete until 2020.

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