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US GPS, EU Galileo to Work Together 203

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the eightsevensixfivefourthreetwooneblastoff dept.
saintory writes "The US and EU are in talks to allow their separate GPS systems to work together. The future uses would allow enhanced location information based on two readings, among other benefits. 'The market probably will drive dual-use receivers. We think probably that single (U.S.) GPS-specific, or Galileo-specific receivers — the market will phase out in time [...] It just doesn't make sense to limit yourself to just one system'."
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US GPS, EU Galileo to Work Together

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  • RAIGPS (Score:5, Funny)

    by markov_chain (202465) on Monday July 16, 2007 @03:17PM (#19879731) Homepage
    Redundant Array of Inexpensive Global Positioning Systems

    I like the way that sounds!
  • How very... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xeth (614132) on Monday July 16, 2007 @03:18PM (#19879749) Journal
    ...refreshing. Seriously, I've gotten rather sick of the acrimony that seems to be building across the Atlantic. It's nice that people see this as a chance for better technology (at least in some respect) rather than pure nationalistic chest-thumping.
    • Re:How very... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by moosesocks (264553) on Monday July 16, 2007 @03:44PM (#19880017) Homepage
      This is especially promising, considering that the US used to intentionally degrade its own GPS signals available to civilians, for fear that it'd be used by "terrorists".

      The only thing this did was to piss off a lot of legitimate users, including the FAA and the Military when the available supply of Military GPS units dried up.

      Also, a very modestly inaccurate GPS signal isn't going to deter a terrorist. Rather, it's going to encourage him to build a bigger bomb, which would result in considerably more collateral damage.
      • Re:How very... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Iphtashu Fitz (263795) on Monday July 16, 2007 @04:02PM (#19880219)
        The only thing this did was to piss off a lot of legitimate users, including the FAA and the Military when the available supply of Military GPS units dried up.

        Don't forget the US Coast Guard, who developed the Differential GPS system for boaters. It consists of a series of ground-based stations throughout the US that receive GPS signals then re-broadcast a "fixed" signal that DGPS receivers can then use for a more accurate fix. I always thought it was pretty ironic (and laughable) that one branch of the military would degrade GPS and then another branch of the military would remove that error specifically for civilian use.
        • The DOD does not mind the Coast Guard's DGPS since it is used for boaters in the USA. The reason for downgrading GPS has more to do with stopping other countries from using GPS-guided weapons in conflicts in other countries (where there is no DGPS); I'm sure in a Red Dawn type scenario the stateside DGPS beacons could be turned off.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by SnowZero (92219)
        That's a great argument for seven years ago, but selective availability is ancient history now.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TooMuchToDo (882796)
        The signal was not degraded because of "terrorists". It was degraded to prevent the use of GPS by an enemy to guide/navigate a rocket-propelled weapon across a continent to a target with precision accuracy. This is also the reason consumer GPS devices have an upper limit on the speed and altitude information they can provide:

        http://www.gpsinformation.net/main/gpsspeed.htm [gpsinformation.net]

        Defense department regulations prohibit standard consumer GPS receivers from functioning above 60,000 feet and 999mph (simultaneously). Most GPS receivers seem to set hard limits at EITHER 999mph or 60,000 feet.

        However, this is all a moot point. The defense department has the ability to selectively degrade the civilian signal in certain geo

        • by Rich0 (548339)
          Someone who is using an ICBM (or some other sort of long-range delivery system) is not going to be using GPS. They're going to be using a combination of radar, topographic map data/recognition systems, and inertial guidance (as to prevent navigation references to be screwed with during the cruise phase of the weapon in question).

          Not to mention that if you can build ICBMs and nuclear warheads in sufficient quantity to actually make you unafraid of retaliation then the cost of adding a navigation package that
      • by Detritus (11846)
        Selective availability never had a damn thing to do with fear of terrorists. It was intended to deny the enemy access to high-precision navigation data. Even if every terrorist shot themselves in the head tomorrow, the military would still need the ability to deny this information to enemy forces.
        • My bad. I guess I'm confusing the rhetoric we're using against "terrorists" with the rhetoric we used against "communists".

          The difference here, I suppose is that the "enemy" in the 70s and 80s had more than enough firepower to obliterate just about everything, not to mention a positioning system of their own [wikipedia.org].
      • by blhack (921171)

        This is especially promising, considering that the US used to intentionally degrade its own GPS signals available to civilians, for fear that it'd be used by "terrorists".

        get your facts straight, from wikipedia:

        Selective availability

        The GPS includes a feature called Selective Availability (SA) that introduces intentional, slowly changing random errors of up to a hundred meters (328 ft) into the publicly available navigation signals to confound,.........
        ........During the Gulf War, the shortage of military GPS units and the wide availability of civilian ones among personnel resulted in a decision to disable Selective Availability.


        so no, bush isn't sitting in the

      • This is especially promising, considering that the US used to intentionally degrade its own GPS signals available to civilians, for fear that it'd be used by "terrorists".

        Huh? SA was turned on from Day One - not because of fears of use by 'terrorists', but because it was a military system and it never occurred to anyone that it might have far reaching civilian uses.

        The only thing this did was to piss off a lot of legitimate users, including the FAA and the Military when the available suppl

      • This is especially promising, considering that the US used to intentionally degrade its own GPS signals available to civilians, for fear that it'd be used by "terrorists".

        Unfortunately, the military still gets better data than civilians. The degraded civilian signal is dead for now, but the normal accuracy civilian signal is still a lot worse than the normal military and licensed surveying GPS solutions can get, which are accurate to inches (1-18) instead of yards (2-10).
      • This is especially promising, considering that the US used to intentionally degrade its own GPS signals available to civilians, for fear that it'd be used by "terrorists".

        Surprise, surprise -- the US can degrade Galileo signals as well: http://www.tagesschau.de/aktuell/meldungen/0,1185, OID2734592_REF3,00.html [tagesschau.de] (But commercial GPS jammers are available as well, so it's not clear how significant this actually is.)
    • by ookabooka (731013)
      What "nationalistic chest-thumping"? Actually I think it makes a lot of sense. If I was going to make some hardware, would I want it to use the EU system, the US system, or both? By using both you gain redundancy, reliability, and even accuracy.

      If the EU made the first positioning system and the US made the 2nd, I'd still say making systems that only used the US's would be a bad idea. GPS-only systems will probably phase out slower due to compatibility issues. A lot of hardware out there was designed for
      • by jc42 (318812)
        If I was going to make some hardware, would I want it to use the EU system, the US system, or both? By using both you gain redundancy, reliability, and even accuracy.

        Yeah; it's good to see that there are actually some sensible people in decision-making positions in some companies. Using both systems might mean an extra antenna, and will certainly mean somewhat more software. But the result should be much more reliable.

        And when the US DoD decides to reactivate the "Selective Availability" (using the code t
    • by RockDoctor (15477)

      ...refreshing. Seriously,
      ... the entire point of Galileo (and GloNASS) is that GPS systems are useful to lots of people, but a single system that is controlled by someone who might be an enemy in the future is worse than useless.

      I've gotten rather sick of the acrimony that seems to be building across the Atlantic.

      Sacked any presidents recently?
  • by datapharmer (1099455) on Monday July 16, 2007 @03:20PM (#19879763) Homepage
    I hope these two combined work better than GPS alone, because I've used GPS quite a bit and have resorted back to map and compass more than once. Between poor reception in mountainous terrain or during bad weather or while in the woods and bad information from the satellites I've pretty much given up. Heck I've seen readings that were more than 100 miles off! And this was not a single device. We had a Magellan with WAAS and a Garmin with a powered external antenna and both gave absurd readings while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail even when they had access to 5 or more satellites.
    • Yeah, sure. But once in a while you get this nice warm glow when the GPS unit tells you that you have hiked 123.45 miles in the last six minutes.
      • I've used a Timex GPS device during my runs for several years now, and I've never had it be that far off, but there have been occasions where I've managed to pull a 2-minute mile. I've just assumed that the GPS training has been very effective. ;)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Typoboy (61087)
      I've used my Garmin GPSes (several models over the years) in various places around the world. I know some GPS boards I have used will give spurious results on a cold or warm start, but once they have stabillized, I haven't seen it "100 miles off". Sure, better reception would help, but I don't think it is quite so broken.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gsfprez (27403)
      poor recievers and position on your part does not constitute a problem with GPS on the operator's part.

      and besides - how does adding additional signals to your already shitty location change anything? If you've got bad multipath problems or narrow FOV problems, more satellites isn't going to change anything.
      • by Carewolf (581105)
        More satelites means that he might recieve more from the narrow angle he is at, and enough to get an accurate reading. That is infact exactly what more sattelites would do, make it GPS better in currently crappy spots. It won't do anything else, because in the good areas the current lack of accuracy is intentional.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by willgps (939538)
      Of your 5 satellites visible, i would be betting one of those was a WAAS, so you can only really count the 4 sats. The critical thing is the Dilution of Precision (DOP). Your accuracy on the ground is directly proportional to the DOP. Basically, (thinking two-dimensionally here for the purpose of the exercise) you can think of this value as the area of a polygon with your receiver on one point, and the gps satellites making up the other points. Having more satellites (ie. combined constellation) along t
    • by Rorschach1 (174480) on Monday July 16, 2007 @07:02PM (#19882157) Homepage
      How old are your GPS receivers? I use headless (no display) SiRF III-based receivers that sell for under $70 and they work indoors where my older, expensive Garmin units don't, and rarely give a fix less accurate than 30 feet. And that's with the built-in patch antennas.

      I think Garmin's new handheld units (the GPSmap 60CSx I'm sure of) use the SiRF III chipset. If you're going to carry a GPS receiver for backpacking, get one of those, carry a couple extra sets of lithium batteries, and you're set. I still recommend carrying topo quads and a compass, just in case. Also, bring a ruler along and make sure you understand how to plot GPS readings on the map by hand. It's really not that hard, and a 7.5" quad beats a tiny GPS display any day.
      • by wings (27310)
        I agree. The 60CSx [amazon.com] has very good sensitivity. That and topo quads allow navigation just about anywhere. That's what I use mine for. The price has come waaaay down too. I paid nearly $700 for mine 18 months ago.
      • I don't know what's been done with the SiRF Star III chipset over the II but it's amazing. There's one in my car satnav and it picks up a signal indoors (like no other GPS I've owned ever has).
  • by Control Group (105494) * on Monday July 16, 2007 @03:34PM (#19879909) Homepage
    International cooperation is a good thing. And it's nice to share a standard frequency.

    But I also think this is nothing more than a recognition of reality. Unless they deliberately enforced licensing restrictions preventing it, I'm quite sure the market would have provided a dual-system device very shortly after Galileo was operative.
  • by gstoddart (321705) on Monday July 16, 2007 @03:36PM (#19879923) Homepage
    Where does this leave the US ability to jam the GPS signal whenever they wanted?

    I thought the reason that Europe wanted their own satellites is that the US basically reserved the right to scramble the signal whenever they wanted, and the EU didn't want to be beholden to US technology. If they broadcast on the same frequency, does this make it easier or harder for the US military to degrade the signal when they wish?

    Is this a good thing in terms of assuring access? Or is this a backdoor for the US to exert more control over it? TFA is vague on that point. It would kinda suck if all they've done is water down the reasons they had for wanting to do it in the first place

    Cheers
    • by BeeRockxs (782462)
      The scrambling affects only the US satellites, and I'm pretty sure that the signal itself also says from which satellite it is from. So you could conceivably ignore the data from the NAVSTAR-GPS satellites, and use just those from the GALILEO satellites.
      • by gstoddart (321705)

        The scrambling affects only the US satellites, and I'm pretty sure that the signal itself also says from which satellite it is from.

        But, if they broadcast on the same frequency, couldn't they set theirs to just transmit crap on all channels and muddy the signal or lie about which satellite is actually transmitting? [ I'm not asserting this is true, I know very little about the mechanics of satellite transmissions ]

        Cheers
    • by SEE (7681)
      The effect of this agreement is to make it easier and cheaper to make dual NAVSTAR/Galileo receivers. The effect of that would be to make it harder for either the US or EU to degrade consumer GPS by messing with their satellite signals in the way the US used to do with Selective Availability -- because more people would have dual-signal devices that would use the other to correct. There has been discussion with the Russians about making GLONASS compatible with the two as well.

      As far as true jamming, the U
    • if you read the news from 2003 and 2004 you'll see that usa reserved the right to jam galileo or even to destroy the galileo satellites.
      cannot find them in english right now, but what i have found is this [blogspot.com]
  • by saibot834 (1061528) on Monday July 16, 2007 @03:39PM (#19879959) Homepage
    And I thought the whole point in Galileo was to be independent of USA's mercy. The US can turn off GPS at any time they want. The EU don't want to be dependent on the USA and so they build their own system.

    Now perhaps this story refers to times when both Galileo _and_ GPS are working. Would that increase the accuracy so that both systems together are more effective? I don't really think so. I don't think that Galileo (which has an accuracy of 0.1 meters afaik) can be enhanced by some GPS satellites (which has an accuracy of 15 meters). They are way too old, the GPS satellites (at least, most of them).
    • by SEE (7681)
      The article is referring to 1) times when both systems were working, and 2) to the next-generation version of GPS (the planned-for-2013 Block III satellites).
    • by SnowZero (92219)

      Would that increase the accuracy so that both systems together are more effective? I don't really think so.

      Statistics says yes. No matter what the variance, any additional unbiased data improves your estimate. It may not improve it a lot, but it will improve it. In the case where there aren't enough sattelites of any one system visible though, it could mean the difference between working rather than failing.

      I don't think that Galileo (which has an accuracy of 0.1 meters afaik) can be enhanced by some GPS satellites (which has an accuracy of 15 meters). They are way too old, the GPS satellites (at least, most of them).

      Well, it's hard to be newer that satellites which have yet to be launched... Let's revisit the accuracy when there is a Galileo constellation to speak of. Right now, the plans are for the <1m accurac

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by argStyopa (232550)
      "And I thought the whole point in Galileo was to be independent of USA's mercy. The US can turn off GPS at any time they want. The EU don't want to be dependent on the USA and so they build their own system."
      "They are way too old, the GPS satellites (at least, most of them)."

      Well, which is better: older working models or wonderful new technology that doesn't really exist yet?

      EU Galileo Satellites in orbit: 1 of 30 (see also: Vaporware)

      US GPS System: 30 known broadcasting satellites. (Some sources suggest t
  • by Animats (122034) on Monday July 16, 2007 @03:42PM (#19879983) Homepage

    Receivers that use both GPS and GLONASS satellite signals have been available for years. Maxim just announced a new receiver chip [gpsworld.com] which receives both and only costs $2.95 in quantity, so that capability is likely to become more available.

    GLONASS was in bad shape after the USSR tanked, but new GLONASS satellites are being launched again, and the constellation is currently about half populated. As of today, 11 GLONASS satellites are functioning, 5 are down, and one new one is being brought into position. 24 operational satellites are a full set.

    The earlier GLONASS sats only had a two year design life, but the latest models have a 7 year design life, and they're going for a 10-year model. They launch a new batch every December, so they're starting to catch up.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TooMuchToDo (882796)
      Hopefully, GLONASS will come back into full service one day (it's always good to have options, right?):

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GLONASS#Current_statu s [wikipedia.org]

      As of May 2007, the system is not fully available, however it is maintained and remains partially operational. There were 11 operational satellites in the GLONASS system and one new satellite in its commissioning phase

      In recent years, Russia has kept the satellite orbits optimized for navigating in Chechnya, increasing signal coverage there at the cost of degrading coverage in the rest of the world. As of May 2007, GLONASS availability in Russia was 45.3% and average availability for the whole Earth was down to 30.5%, with significant areas of less than 25% availability. Meaning that, at any given time of the day in Russia, there is a 45.3% likelihood that a position fix can be calculated.

      In short, that's not exactly what I would call a "global positioning system"

  • One reason for this sudden cooperation is that the US might want to be in on the party when it comes to the EU plans to implement a tracking system for every vehicle on its roads. This intention is revealed in UK Department for Transport documents that show that a high priority for our GPS-based "road pricing" system plans is compatibility with European systems.

    Or it could be because Galileo is designed to be more effective in urban areas, which the US have taken to occupying recently.
    • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
      Repeat after me: GPS *receivers* are not transmitters.

      Reading the daily mail you might think it's true, but then reading that rag you might think a lot of bullshit things are true.

      You can't track anything with gps without a back-channel to send the data - and cars are reasonably short of those (unless you count mobile phones which can be tracked to a few metres anyway).
      • by Vancorps (746090)
        I would tend to think that a GPS tracking system for cars would be land based like what ships and boats use out at sea. Doesn't require the same level of transmission gear and is pretty damned reliable. You could certainly track cars as I believe that is what onStar does here in the U.S. already. Of course I suppose nothing stops car manufacturers from putting the required gear to transmit to a satellite or five.
        • http://www.onstar.com/us_english/jsp/privacy_poli c y.jsp [onstar.com]

          Q: Does OnStar continuously monitor my car's location?
          A: No, OnStar does not continuously or routinely monitor, update or otherwise track the location of OnStar-equipped cars. OnStar only knows the location of a car when a user initiates a request for service, there is an Air Bag Deployment, an Advanced Automatic Crash Notification occurs, your OnStar equipment calls OnStar with data updates or when required to locate a car by a valid court order in c

          • Near as I can tell onstar uses nothing more than a cellphone and a gps receiver. It's fairly low-tech to have the cellphone phone home periodically and give it the location. Of course, having every car on the road doing this continuously would eat a lot of cellphone bandwidth.
            i'd think a dword pair would be more than enough for a cars location, we aren't talking about very much data there. The packet overheads would probablly be bigger than the data but we still aren't talking high rates.

            How much bandwidth
            • I don't mean bandwidth purely in bytes/sec. Think of it more as capacity. I would guess that current system capacity is built around how many active mobile phones you're going to have. Since everything costs money, and having a mobile phone in use isn't going to be free, providers are going to build their capacity around what they think the maximum and average totals are going to be. I know I would. There must be some maximum at which the responsiveness of the system begins to degrade and some point at
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Kadin2048 (468275) *
          I would tend to think that a GPS tracking system for cars would be land based like what ships and boats use out at sea. Doesn't require the same level of transmission gear and is pretty damned reliable. You could certainly track cars as I believe that is what onStar does here in the U.S. already. Of course I suppose nothing stops car manufacturers from putting the required gear to transmit to a satellite or five.

          What are you talking about, in terms of "like what ships and boats use out at sea"?

          A GPS receive
      • The cellular modem should provide an adequate backchannel. They even go so far as to budget 100 GBP for each unit.

        But the key here is still the "GPS" part. Rather than the present efforts which involve number-plate recognising cameras, or my own personal design which utilises RFID enabled number plates and existing pickup loops in the roads (installed for traffic light sensors), this proposed system can (and does) track a road vehicle anywhere it goes. This is somewhat overboard for their stated aim of redu
  • One system (Score:2, Insightful)

    by eebra82 (907996)
    "..It just doesn't make sense to limit yourself to just one system.."

    No, what we need is like 500 different systems. Just like in the world of memory cards.
    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      ``No, what we need is like 500 different systems. Just like in the world of memory cards.''

      Ahem. You're forgetting one key difference here: where the memory cards are a mess of incompatible systems, the talks mentioned in TFA are actually about making the systems compatible. This makes all the difference in the world.

      Different, incompatible memory card interfaces breed lock-in (MemoryStick is close to this), data loss (once old interfaces cease being supported), energy wasted on converters, reinventing the
  • Launches? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rlp (11898) on Monday July 16, 2007 @04:16PM (#19880395)
    Has ESA actually launched any of the Galileo satellites yet? Last I heard the program was having management and budget problems.
  • It's amazing how this Galileo topic ALWAYS ends up in people slagging off against America. OK moving on: The American GPS system is a fantastic FREE product (free to uses, not free to US citizens who pay through their Federal Taxes). The rest of the world has used the system for years and benefited. Then a European venture (made up of several disparate partners) decided there was a business opportunity to launch a rival system and pay for it by offering PAY services to users, in return for increased accura
  • by Etherwalk (681268) on Monday July 16, 2007 @04:50PM (#19880773)
    Think about it. It's better to have both than one in case a GPS scrambler won't knock out the Galileo signal (once it exists.) It's probably worth spending a few thousand dollars more per tank for that kind of redundancy--accurate positioning information has made a huge difference in how well modern armies fight. Ipsa scientia potest est--Knowledge itself is power.
  • The concept of combined receivers isn't all that unusual. There are receivers out there, primarily used in aerospace, that combine GLOSNASS and GPS to render a more accurate position.
  • Military use (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Laxator2 (973549) on Monday July 16, 2007 @05:20PM (#19881105)
    The GPS system is capable of being re-programmed such that it will give the wrong coordinates to all but the US military. If GALILEO stays independent and keeps giving the correct coordinates a significant advantage is lost. I don't think the US military will accept that, so the getting the systems to work together may very well mean they will give the same wrong coordinates should the US military want that. I don't see the Europeans oposing such a demand.
  • Cool (Score:3, Funny)

    by Jay L (74152) <{mf.yaj} {ta} {hsals+yaj}> on Monday July 16, 2007 @05:53PM (#19881453) Homepage
    Now I won't have to switch from one system to the other on long drives.
  • The article summary is somewhat misleading - the US and the EU decided a couple of years ago to work together and talks have been ongoing since then. The only real news here is that they are about to reach agreement.
     
    I suspect the EU may be pressing for agreement to help smokescreen the fact that Galileo is badly behind schedule.
  • I have been looking for a decent GPS system that offers the following:

    Real-time data tracking via USB or serial connected to a Linux laptop.
    Onscreen display of maps and directions
    Destination input via the unit. (Systems like the Garmin Quest only allow you to select places that you have already been to and "Save this Location")
    Bonus points if it is mobile.

    It _must_ be linux compatable, I refuse to run Windows just to 'unlock' the device.
    I am willing/eager to use GPSBabel + Google Maps.

    I know of several dev
  • power (Score:3, Insightful)

    by agurkan (523320) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @06:15AM (#19885623) Homepage
    Actually it makes a lot of sense to limit yourself to a single system when you realize reading more channels with multiple protocols require a lot more power. It even makes sense to limit yourself to 12 channels rather than 20 available, if you are really concerned about power. There are GPS devices out there that use previous generation chipsets because of power constraints.

    If they could somehow make the two systems act as one, and you could read a channel from one system with no extra power cost, then I agree that getting a fix from best available satellites and mixing-an-matching during the process is superior to limiting yourself to one system.

Wernher von Braun settled for a V-2 when he coulda had a V-8.

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