Beta

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Are We Too Reliant On GPS?

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the please-don't-take-my-GPS dept.

Businesses 325

RedEaredSlider writes "A new report from the Royal Academy of Engineering in London suggests developed nations have become too reliant on GPS systems. The report from the Academy focuses on global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) and their vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities include deliberate or accidental interference, both man-made (such as jamming) and natural (such as solar flares). While most people equate GPS systems with the tiny screens which get drivers from point A to point B, the report says society's reliance on the technology goes well beyond that. The Academy says the range of applications using the technology is so vast that without adequate independent backup, signal failure or interference could potentially affect safety systems and other critical parts of the economy."

cancel ×

325 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

No. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35435854)

No.

Secondly, CmdrTaco and kdawson have tiny penises. They also hang out at a gay bathhouse together ever tuesday, thursday and sunday.

Yes absolutely (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35435876)

VOR/DME is still the way to go. ADF will get you by in a pinch, but it can throw you a real curve ball sometimes.

Re:Yes absolutely (1)

ghjm (8918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436730)

I don't see why we ever upgraded from four course radios.

Re:Yes absolutely (1)

SETIGuy (33768) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436756)

Too many VORs are getting dismantled in order to save money. I don't think there ever was sufficient ground level VOR coverage to act as any kind of a GPS backup. Nation/world wide LORAN coverage might be an option, but gridded WAAS might be better.

GPS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35435882)

NYOM NOM NOM NOM NMOM

Of course.... (0)

QuantumLeaper (607189) | more than 3 years ago | (#35435886)

We relay on Technology to the thinking way to much these days. GPS is just another way to not take person responsibly.

Re:Of course.... (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436086)

What are you trying to argue, that people shouldn't be using tools? One of your distant ancestors could have just as easily claimed that flint knives are just another way to not take responsibility for mammoth killing.

Re:Of course.... (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436140)

the engadget pictures speaks for itself
http://www.engadget.com/2011/03/08/early-mid-week-shocker-research-says-we-are-overly-reliant-on-g/ [engadget.com]

I have traveled down some roads which the GPS says are continuous state roads but are closer 4 wheeler trails.
The GPS makes no claim to accuracy of the maps they provide. There is nothing quite like being out in a storm only to find out that the short cut your GPS maps show as roads are really dirt trails.

It happens far to often. It is why I don't rely on GPS. Useful yes, but in a jam I have two eyes, two ears and a brain between them

Re:Of course.... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436202)

That is a problem with the maps you were using not GPS. GPS is Global Positioning System, it just tells you where you are and that is it.

Re:Of course.... (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436230)

This is nothing to do with road navigation.

It has everything to do with all the other systems using GPS: the thing that tracks the location of your important parcel, or keeps the "Next train in 5 minutes" indicator accurate, or synchronises the clock on something.

Re:Of course.... (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436486)

Phone networks - both landline and mobile - use GPS. Without GPS, there's no way to precisely sync up timeslots in TDMA backhaul.

Re:Of course.... (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436618)

Without GPS, there's no way to precisely sync up timeslots in TDMA backhaul.

That sounds a little pessimistic. You mean at this moment there are no deployed time sources that will work.

To keep our morse code circuits aligned (just kidding) we had Cesium clocks, Rb clocks, etc. Cough up the dough and you can have very accurate time.

I'd have to look at the specs, but a really good ovenized xtal might be good enough for TDMA. By really good I don't mean the cheapest dip oscillator money can buy from the cheapest vendor. Think more like the "frequency west bricks" of ye olden days.

Re:Of course.... (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436244)

I don't see how that's a problem exclusive to GPS. You could just as easily be following directions from a gas station map that has the same trail labeled as a state route. GPS didn't invent map errors.

Re:Of course.... (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436746)

That's Satnav, not GPS. Regardless of what the sign says.

Re:Of course.... (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436390)

What are you trying to argue, that people shouldn't be using tools?

Tools should be used, but assumed to sometimes be fallible. Now live by that and you'll probably be fine. :p

Re:Of course.... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436168)

Mind repeating that in English?

It is not my first language either, but I have no idea what you are trying to say.

Re:Of course.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35436266)

Allow me. With corrections, I believe that was: "We [rely] on technology to [do] the thinking way [too] much these days. GPS is just another way to not take [personal responsibility]"

Re:Of course.... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436442)

Thank you

Re:Of course.... (2)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436246)

Geez dude. Maybe you should learn to rely on spellcheck.

"relay" should by rely.
Technology is not capitalized.
"to the thinking way"... I think you left out the word "do".
"to much" should be "too much".
"person" should be "personal".
"responsibly" should be "responsibility".

Re:Of course.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35436428)

Geez dude. Maybe you should learn to rely on spellcheck.

Spellcheck wouldn't actually catch any of those

Re:Of course.... (2)

jefe7777 (411081) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436634)

You forgot the period on the end of your sentence. Maybe you should learn to rely on spellcheck.

Re:Of course.... (1)

SuperSlacker64 (1918650) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436742)

Don't you mean grammar check?

Re:Of course.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35436300)

We rely on technology to do the thinking way too much these days. GPS is just another way to not take personal responsibly.

It's either clever or ironic that your comments illustrate the problem so well. Good job either way.

Re:Of course....WOW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35436640)

Come on! The above commenters all seem to be under the impression that the only GPS application is the maps systems in your fancy new car. There have been several stories running around the net for the last few days, including here on /., about the havoc wreaked by simple GPS jammers. Many technologies rely on the accurate time signals from the GPS system. Recently the US Navy was conducting an excersize off the coast of San Diego in which they jammed GPS for a few hours. During that time various systems failed including cell phones, pagers, aircraft landing guidance, and ATMs! Several dozen $30 GPS jammers scattered around a city could shut down all sorts of critical services. I would say that we are undoubtedly too reliant on GPS.

Uh, no. (0)

Rurik (113882) | more than 3 years ago | (#35435914)

GPS is just the latest iteration of navigational assistance. Before it was Google Map printouts. And before that was AAA trip books. And then hand-written maps and directions given over the phone. And it goes on. Think of "Go down about two sees and look for a red barn, then turn left." How are any of these different from a GPS? What happens if the barn fell down, or was painted, or was too dark to see?

Each has the same issue of the driver not intelligently understanding when things go different from what the directions in front of them say. Overall, GPS does help because it means no longer stopping to ask for directions.

I can't see it being a bad thing to become reliant on a technology to help you from getting lost.

Re:Uh, no. (3, Insightful)

jimmyswimmy (749153) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436022)

I will make the same comment I make every time we debate technology's superiority to paper:

I cannot remember the last time my map crashed. It may be inaccurate (but so may GPS), it may be out of date (but so may GPS), it may not be intuitive (but so may GPS). But when I turn too fast and pull the plug out of the lighter socket, my paper map will still work. When some jerk is driving next to me with non-FCC licensed equipment drowning out the GPS band, my paper map will still work. It doesn't call out turns a mile ahead, it doesn't show up-to-the-thirty-minutes-ago traffic, all it does is show me where I am and I can use my brain to figure out where I'm going.

A GPS is superior to a map but does not replace it, and becoming reliant on a GPS to the point where I do not consult or bring a paper map is foolhardy.

Re:Uh, no. (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436080)

A GPS is superior to a map but does not replace it, and becoming reliant on a GPS to the point where I do not consult or bring a paper map is foolhardy.

And this is exactly why society or the economy won't come crashing down if GPS fails. In most cases we can and will switch to less convenient but more reliable tech.

Re:Uh, no. (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436182)

The exact argument is we're becoming too comfortable with tech and leaving off old-school thinking.

Re:Uh, no. (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436308)

Meh, as long as you don't blindly follow GPS directions it's fine to rely on it for driving. Now for situations that could endanger my life (backwoods hiking or mountain climbing or sea kayaking) I don't even start with GPS but use a simple compass and waterproof map that I've studied before starting my trip (should I lose the map).

Re:Uh, no. (1)

eric2hill (33085) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436260)

Not to be a total ass, but a map doesn't actually show you where you are. You have to determine your own location on the map.

I agree that a map won't fail in the same ways a GPS unit will fail, but your argument isn't really a fair argument. An outdoor GPS works in the rain, a map gets wet and turns to mush. A GPS takes much less room to store more map data. A GPS won't have small tears at the edges and folds.

Each method for location has its' own strengths and weaknesses. Use the correct tool for the job.

Re:Uh, no. (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436542)

You need a compass and landmarks to determine where on the map you are. Maps are available both laminated and printed on water proof material. This will also be resistant to tearing. Not every map is like the one you got at disneyland last summer.

Re:Uh, no. (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436410)

A GPS is superior to a map but does not replace it, and becoming reliant on a GPS to the point where I do not consult or bring a paper map is foolhardy.

Are you in danger of using a GPS so much you'll forget how to read a map?

Re:Uh, no. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35436540)

What about the time I forgot to bring the correct map with me (Hollywood, CA? I'm in Hollywood, FL!)? Or the time the overhead light in my car went out so I couldn't read the map? Or the time I got in my car wet and got the map all soggy?

Re:Uh, no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35436622)

I cannot remember the last time my map crashed.

I've been using in-car satnavs since 2004. I've never had one actually crash on me. I've never used one of the cheapo off-brand models though.

But when I turn too fast and pull the plug out of the lighter socket, my paper map will still work.

As will the satnav. Even the earliest models I've used has had at least an hour of life on its internal battery, and most recent ones have much more. Even if I didn't notice and it went flat, it's not like it's permanently dead. I can still connect it back in, and do so with less attention diverted from driving than reading a paper map.

When some jerk is driving next to me with non-FCC licensed equipment drowning out the GPS band, my paper map will still work.

Again, in 7 years I've never had this happen. Even if it did, how long is he likely to be in jamming range? I can always pull over if I'm totally lost without it.

Being able to read a paper map is still a useful skill, but a lot of your concerns about satnavs are completely unfounded. Yes, there'll always be idiots that follow the instructions to drive off a cliff, but that's less likely than a driver getting into an accident by having a paper map unfolded across the dash and blocking their view. I'd like to see some statistics for how many accidents that caused 10 years ago compared to now, I bet it's less than GPS related accidents.

Re:Uh, no. (4, Insightful)

MDMurphy (208495) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436644)

I will make the same comment I make every time we debate technology's superiority to paper:

I cannot remember the last time my map crashed. It may be inaccurate (but so may GPS), it may be out of date (but so may GPS), it may not be intuitive (but so may GPS). But when I turn too fast and pull the plug out of the lighter socket, my paper map will still work. When some jerk is driving next to me with non-FCC licensed equipment drowning out the GPS band, my paper map will still work. It doesn't call out turns a mile ahead, it doesn't show up-to-the-thirty-minutes-ago traffic, all it does is show me where I am and I can use my brain to figure out where I'm going.

A GPS is superior to a map but does not replace it, and becoming reliant on a GPS to the point where I do not consult or bring a paper map is foolhardy.

It's obvious that you're part of the group who incorrectly thinks GPS is that magic box which tells you were to aim your car. If you'd read ( and understood ) the article you might have seen this one sentence:

In the U.K., on top of satellite navigation, GNSS is used for data networks, financial systems, shipping and air transport, agriculture, railways and emergency services.

The biggest problem if GPS were disrupted would *not* be hoards of tourists stopping to ask for directions.

Silly. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35436738)

Do you ride horses? Do you make your own shoes? Do you make fire with flint and tinder? Probably not. Why? Because it extremely unlikely you will ever actually need those fallbacks—technology is reliable. That is why it persists, despite these original solutions.

Re:Uh, no. (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436030)

You don't see any problems with becoming reliant on receiving realtime directions while having no personal knowledge of where you are and how to get where you are going?

The person who walked into traffic because the GPS didn't tell them they weren't in a safe area for pedestrians to waltz across the road should be a warning not an example to follow.

Re:Uh, no. (1)

BrianRoach (614397) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436036)

They key word you used is "assistance". If that's all it is to you, you're fine. I actually rarely use it, even though I have it on my phone. My biggest use is to center the map on my location because that's convenient.

If you don't know how to read a map, or figure out which direction is North, it's no longer "assistance". It's the only method of navigation you understand.

Re:Uh, no. (0)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436068)

The problem (which was discussed in great detail yesterday [slashdot.org] ) is that people are using GPS for, among other things, reliably ascertaining the time of day. So it's not just the latest iteration of navigational assistance like it should be.

And as somebody who used to write software for GPS units, they most definitely have their flaws: Among other things, they can't distinguish between "really pleasant parkway" and "next to a sewage treatment plant".

Re:Uh, no. (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436076)

GPS receivers break, their batteries die, they are subject to interference. I use them all the time, but I also have a paper map in the trunk.

The difference between the spoken directions (lowest tech) and the GPS is that if the GPS breaks I have no idea where I'm going from there, and probably can't find my way back because I've been focusing on a GPS screen and not viewable landmarks. In your example, if I've driven five sees and I haven't encountered a barn, I can backtrack about three sees and look more carefully for a barn. And if the barn is torn down, chances are I can try the two or three roads at the second see and start looking for the next landmark.

Re:Uh, no. (4, Informative)

AdmiralXyz (1378985) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436084)

If you had, y'know, read the article (or even the summary) you would've seen them point out that the issue is not whether John Q. Driver can get from place to place, but how there are a lot of invisible applications, like synchronizing the US power grid, that have grown to rely on GPS. Those are the things that are in danger from intentional or unintentional jamming, no one cares about navigation.

The worst part about this is that the solution is not as easy as this article makes it out to be. GPS signals have to be as weak as they are by design- you just can't get much more transmitting power into those satellites, and while LORAN might help, I don't think it has the accuracy either in positioning or in timing that a lot of applications need. It does highlight the necessity for these devices to "fail gracefully" instead of catastrophically though.

Re:Uh, no. (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436386)

I believe LORAN is gone. The US Coast Guard used to maintain the system worldwide - a friend of mine was stationed at a LORAN station in both Alaska and later in Japan, but they have shut down so many of the stations (if not all of them now) that is it unusable in many placed. If not all of them.

Re:Uh, no. (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436664)

while LORAN might help

Only via a seance. LORAN is dead. Omega too. Omega was cool. Still have WWVB and WWV out in Colorado.

There is no particular reason why you couldn't re implement GPS using ground mounted atomic clocks and a bunch of towers. Conveniently, we have an infrastructure of cellphone towers neatly mapping with civilization, also providing coverage to big cities.

Re:Uh, no. (4, Informative)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436358)

Well, I guess you haven't heard about all of the things that are actually reliant on GPS. Sure, it is used for consumer navigation and that could easily be replaced with a paper map.

But, did you know that the 60Hz synchronization of electrical generation in the US is reliant on GPS clocks? Lose GPS and the synch will drift and this results in disconnecting from the grid. I.e., power failures. I believe the previous synchronization systems were primarily manual tuning which was happily thrown out completely when the GPS clocking was available. No, nobody can go back now. At least not without some pretty significant down time.

And of course we are working up to a aircraft navigation and control system that will be 100% reliant on GPS. No GPS = planes do not take off. Not just passenger planes but also all air cargo.

Ships at sea used to use LORAN but the US Coast Guard has been dismantling the LORAN system they maintained. I believe it is gone now, so there is no going back.

Most of the stratum-1 NTP clocks (keeping the Internet clocks synchronized) are driven from GPS today. Not atomic reference clocks and not radios receiving WWV signals but GPS. Think about how much fun it is to synchronize databases when the system clocks aren't in agreement.

Are you getting the picture? GPS is used for way, way more than consumer navigation in cars. Lose the GPS system and today there is no backup and no possibility of continuing without some pretty major hiccups.

Re:Uh, no. (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436436)

Except that GPS is used for a bunch of other things, one of the biggies being time synchronisation - it's a cheap easy way to know the time. The basically same story from yesterday linked to http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20202-gps-chaos-how-a-30-box-can-jam-your-life.html?page=1 [newscientist.com] which has this gem:

In 2010, he conducted an experiment in the North Sea, aboard the THV Galatea, a 500-tonne ship. The Galatea is the pride of its fleet, with all the latest navigation equipment. Last wanted to find out how it would cope without GPS. So he used a simple jamming device that overwhelmed the GPS signal by broadcasting noise on the same frequency as the satellites.

When Last activated the jammer, the ship went haywire. According to the electronic display on the ship's bridge, the Galatea was suddenly flying at Mach speeds over northern Europe and Ireland. Then alarms sounded. The ship's navigation backup – its gyrocompass – crashed, because it uses GPS to provide corrections. The radar did the same. Even the ship's satellite communications failed, because GPS points the antenna in the right direction.

So the backups failed, because they relied on GPS in ways nobody had bothered to think about.

Young'ns don't understand. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35435922)

I was on a shuttle bus with a set of Marine veterans going to Vietnam. They were reminiscing about training and someone threw in that a group of recruits were kicked out for cheating on their basic fieldcraft/map reading. Apparently, the defence used by the guys who were caught is that basic fieldcraft isn't relevant because they know where they are from GPS. I found it unbelievable that the thought even crossed their minds.

All it takes is the US GPS system to be jammed, and they are in a hell of a lot of trouble...

Re:Young'ns don't understand. (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#35435948)

Maps!? Baww! In my day we didn't have maps and we liked it! We found our way by reading the stars!

Re:Young'ns don't understand. (5, Funny)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 3 years ago | (#35435980)

In my day, we did have maps, but all they were good for was for finding where the world ended and where the giant sea monsters were located.

Re:Young'ns don't understand. (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436038)

Codswallop! Back in my day we didn't have any of your fancy "stars"!

Re:Young'ns don't understand. (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436152)

You had days????

Re:Young'ns don't understand. (1)

cvtan (752695) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436118)

You had stars? You were lucky...

Re:Young'ns don't understand. (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436136)

Maps!? Baww! In my day we didn't have maps and we liked it! We found our way by reading the stars!

Stars!? Baww! in my day we didn't have stars and we liked it! We found our way by having everything localized in the same infinitesimal dot!

Re:Young'ns don't understand. (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436330)

Maps!? Baww! In my day we didn't have maps and we liked it! We found our way by reading the stars!

I think this is true, I was talking with someone who was in the Marines, he mentioned his group was on some training exercise (on foot, no vehicles) and they couldn't figure out where they were. And the maps were not much help. He said there was this one guy who grew up in the back country, was not that smart with people and technical stuff. But he could look up at the stars and point to the map, "this is where we are and we need to go this way."

Re:Young'ns don't understand. (1)

capedgirardeau (531367) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436628)

I am afraid have to call bs on this one. He might very well have been able to look at the stars and get the direction they needed to go, but he sure as heck couldn't tell where he was with any great resolution.

People spent centuries trying to find a way to use the sky to locate themselves longitudinally and failed for the most part. At best even with the proper instruments and a table of star positions it took hours and had a +/- of 50 miles.

Please see: Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time, Dava Sobel

Spirit of God navigation system (2, Interesting)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436760)

Stars? Luxury! When I was a young'n the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.

So we had to develop a Spirit of God (SOG) navigation system. And He kept moving over the surface of the waters, which made it even more difficult. This is still in use today, as some US soldiers will tell you that they are assigned to SOG, but are not allowed to tell you exactly what they do.

Re:Young'ns don't understand. (1)

Big_Breaker (190457) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436144)

Not really.

GPS satellites orbit at 20,000 km and are therefore VERY hard to take out. We have bigger problems if that happens.

Jammers that are strong enough to disrupt aircraft are strong enough to locate and destroy (AGM-88 HARM). Perhaps the trickiest situation would be small jammers in dense, civilian locations. In that case use them as a beacon a la Skyhook.

Re:Young'ns don't understand. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35436574)

Trouble can be much simpler. E.g. they are in a jungle. Their GPS units have flat batteries or maybe the humidity broke a new model that wasn't field tested properly. All they have is a map and compass.

Re:Young'ns don't understand. (1)

Big_Breaker (190457) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436778)

I think every grunt has a GPS these days - so they would ALL have to have flat batteries. And mil-spec GPS that can't take jungle humidity? laugh... again, one of the units would work. Orienteering should still be taught but it isn't as critical as it once was. Too bad, the world feels awful small when you can't get lost in it.

The military is working on inertial systems that take advantage of the fact that one or both boots of a soldier is normally on the ground. Networking a platoons boot heels turns out to be a very decent way of figuring location from the last available absolute position fix. It's great inside concrete structures where GPS signals can fail to penetrate. Firefighters are a likely civilian beneficiary.

The only solution is to move back into caves (5, Insightful)

spoon00 (25994) | more than 3 years ago | (#35435974)

We are also too reliant on electricity, computers, cars, airplanes, ships,...

Re:The only solution is to move back into caves (0)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436134)

We are also too reliant on electricity, computers, cars, airplanes, ships,...

The difference is that those things are not trivial to disable compared to GPS.

Re:The only solution is to move back into caves (1)

siddesu (698447) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436748)

It is a lot easier to have some nut drive a truck with a bomb into the local substation and leave half of your town without power than to scramble the same bomb into orbit and nuke a GPS satellite, causing the next available to become offline. It is also a lot easier to hide afterwards if you just send a truck than if you develop and launch a big enough rocket.

Having nuts sabotage a large enough number of substations to cause serious disruption in the US is much harder, but still a lot easier than knocking out enough GPS satellites from orbit.

The only feasible scenario that can kill the GPS is a US war with a power that has both rockets and nukes. The likelihood of such a war is close to zero, from the left hand side.

Re:The only solution is to move back into caves (1)

b0bby (201198) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436328)

But I can't buy an airplane jammer for under $100 on dealextreme... unless you count the green lasers I guess!

The Solution. (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35435994)

Let's just fly it all in to the sun, and mate with cavemen!

Re:The Solution. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35436198)

Worst TV series ending EVAR!!!

DR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35436000)

Dead Reckoning for life.

PS) CAPTCHA: insight

Lucky I've got GLONASS. Pfft GPS. (1)

mirix (1649853) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436028)

I was cleaning the basement the other day and came across an old compass of mine. It got me thinking, I wonder if future generations are even going to be able to operate the things.

Re:Lucky I've got GLONASS. Pfft GPS. (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436132)

I was cleaning the basement the other day and came across an old compass of mine. It got me thinking, I wonder if future generations are even going to be able to operate the things.

Check with people in your own age group; you may be disappointed with the small number of people in that group who are able to use a compass or find their way unassisted with minimal aids. The number of such people is most probably declining with each new generation, but it wasn't very high to begin with.

Re:Lucky I've got GLONASS. Pfft GPS. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35436186)

The last time I tried (a cheap) one, there were too many magnets and waves around for it to work.

Re:Lucky I've got GLONASS. Pfft GPS. (1)

eric2hill (33085) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436298)

If the magnetic poles move any farther, future generations may not be able to operate the things as they were intended. :)

Re:Lucky I've got GLONASS. Pfft GPS. (1)

miserere nobis (1332335) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436586)

If changes in the magnetic field of the earth keep accelerating, chances are that the answer may be no.

Re:Lucky I've got GLONASS. Pfft GPS. (1)

butalearner (1235200) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436686)

You dropped the acronym I was looking for, but proceeded not to say anything about it.

The summary itself says that they're not just talking about GPS in your car or your phone, but the whole GPS system. But GPS isn't the only game in town. GLONASS is the Russian version of GPS, already covers most of the world, and is expected to provide global coverage this year. The EU is building up Galileo, only a couple test satellites in, with the first four operational satellites being launched this year. The Chinese are building COMPASS/Beidou-2, also only a couple satellites in.

And those are just the global systems. Many countries have or are building systems to provide regional position data. The Chinese already have Beidou-1, the Japanese are building QZSS, and India is planning on launching the first satellite of IRNSS this year. I'm sure I'm missing some.

If it's there people will use it (2)

cvtan (752695) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436088)

First of all, why are the Slashdot abbreviated comments using gray type on a gray background! This is painful. Secondly, given human nature, if the GPS info is reliable for more than a few days at a time someone will make an app for that... After a while it will end up controlling our nuclear arsenal. It's the same reason people live on the sides of volcanoes. If it hasn't blown up for a while, someone has to move there.

I was talking to a friend in my CCNA class (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436094)

He's an inertial nav test guy, I'm a former avionics developer.

We both agreed that we can understand the financial incentives to remove inertial nav from planes, but that it's misguided.

You *NEED* a backup in case GPS fails (and dead reckoning has a good chance of leaving you just that -- dead).

Re:I was talking to a friend in my CCNA class (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436270)

Compasses do not work in airplanes? Maps do not work at altitude?

Re:I was talking to a friend in my CCNA class (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436762)

Compasses do not work in airplanes? Maps do not work at altitude?

Take a small plane up and find out. Pretty much, the answer is "no". Occasionally, in smooth air, when you're flying straight and level for awhile, you'll get a snapshot fix of where you're probably pointed, within 10, maybe even 5 degrees. Its not quite like on a large boat where it mostly just works.

Re:I was talking to a friend in my CCNA class (1)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436478)

He's an inertial nav test guy, I'm a former avionics developer.

We both agreed that we can understand the financial incentives to remove inertial nav from planes, but that it's misguided.

You *NEED* a backup in case GPS fails (and dead reckoning has a good chance of leaving you just that -- dead).

Considering how relatively cheap LORAN was to maintain, I don't think we should have retired it. In a war with a peer enemy... say China just for illustration here... one of the first things they'll do is fire off ASAT's at our orbiting assets like GPS and communications satellites. Something other than a compass and a map would be nice to have as a backup in cockpits and quarterdecks.

Re:I was talking to a friend in my CCNA class (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436510)

Thus ruining space for everyone and making me finally realize humans in general are worthless shitheads.

Re:I was talking to a friend in my CCNA class (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436720)

You *NEED* a backup in case GPS fails (and dead reckoning has a good chance of leaving you just that -- dead).

As you aviation guys probably know, the most likely failure mode is not the GPS satellites being shot down or jammed, but the single GPS antenna getting iced over and cracking or the single feedline falling off or the single GPS "engine" overheating or the DC power to the GPS shorting out or open circuit, or

Pole Reversal? (1)

CloneRanger (122623) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436170)

With the South Atlantic Anomaly getting bigger, going back to compass readings might not be reliable during a pole flip either. GPS might need some hardening to prevent spoofing. But I thought it would be a good system to have in place when magnetic poles move.

Re:Pole Reversal? (1)

medv4380 (1604309) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436682)

They's why you use redundant systems. If you go boating out at sea you do not go out with only a magnetic compass to navigate. You leave with a magnetic compass and a gyrocompass. That minimizes the chance that some random magnetic anomaly will get you lost out at sea. Only an idiot would go out and navigate by GPS alone.

And your Pole Reversal has zero affect on a Gyrocompass unless you also think that the crust slips when a pole reversal happens, and I hope no one still buys into that hair brained scyme.

street address, not cruise missile coordinates! (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436212)

Well all I got to say is I'm yappin' with someone on how get to where I want to go and they say, "I'm at 37.655, -121.998."

dammit how about a street address? and a cross street will be helpful as well. and if you got brain one, how about Thomas Guide page/grid number?

original report is online (3, Informative)

at10u8 (179705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436254)

See the original text of the report [raeng.org.uk] .

Why does the Railroads need GPS when they (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436286)

Why does the Railroads need GPS when they they have FIXED TRACK and like 30-40 year old systems for keeping track where trains are at.

Re:Why does the Railroads need GPS when they (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35436524)

Because rolling stock rolls

Re:Why does the Railroads need GPS when they (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35436568)

its for the network operators to know where on the fixed track the trains are to avoid collisions

GPS Kills! (1)

doghouse41 (140537) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436314)

There was an article a few weeks ago on how people have died through following their GPS into Death Valley, then getting into trouble - no water, no cellphone coverage, very high temperatures. Go figure.

Re:GPS Kills! (1)

basotl (808388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436494)

Same thing has occurred with maps in the past. People taking shortcuts that falter off to nothing and getting stranded.

Re:GPS Kills! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35436624)

Citation? If you're hiking in Death Valley it's hard not to know it. It's in a HUGE park. If you're driving into DV, there are plenty of warnings.

Yes, people die in DV; but it's not because they don't know where they are. It's usually because they underestimate what it can do to you.

BTW, water may not help you. I had to turn back on the dunes because I could tell my body wasn't handling it, even though I had 2L with me and drank 1.

When you go there, you have to respect the fact that it's not an ordinary place. Be prepared, and at the first sign of trouble, TURN BACK or otherwise make GETTING HELP YOUR FIRST PRIORITY.

Anybody got a sextant? (1)

mmell (832646) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436316)

Star charts? Oh, and a timepiece (your average spring-driven wristwatch will do, I can shoot noon with the sextant to keep it accurate)?

I've got a slide-rule, if that helps with the math and trig.

GPS usage (1)

stewbee (1019450) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436334)

As an American that has been to the UK (the apparent location of the authors) and has driven around with both a GPS and just a map, I will take the GPS hands down! The signage in a typical UK town is bad. You generally need to look at the buildings to find out what street you are on if you can spot it before you pass it. The roundabouts seem to tell you what town you are going to end up in if you take that particular road instead of what street that you are turning onto. Navigating with a map was painful!

Now it could just be because I am not used to it. I know that there are parts of the US (Maryland and NY come to mind) that I have been to that can be similarly difficult to navigate, but not to the level that I experienced in the UK. So I am curious if there are any Brits that have driven in the US and what their impressions were on driving here compared to the UK. Would you take GPS over a map also?

Time synchronization (1)

mirix (1649853) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436378)

A lot of people think of GPS as only positioning, but a lot of embedded things pull time through GPS (either PPS for real time, or 10MHz for use as a timebase).

I'm sure there are plenty of things with sloppy code that doesn't exactly fail gracefully when losing GPS, especially for long time periods.

Anyway, another aspect to think about.

Per Submission or Per Word? (5, Insightful)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436430)

I wonder whether IBTimes pays RedEaredSlider per submission or per word for his work?

In his brief time on Slashdot, RedEaredSlider has submitted many dozens of articles; every single one of them references IBTimes and only IBTimes. I could even forgive a little Roland-Piqepaille-like self promotion, but this pattern of behavior screams paid promotion.

I ask a question in rebuttal: has Slashdot become too reliant on corporate media promoters?

nails all chewed off, still not getting ahead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35436458)

relying on your gov to 'work? there's a book for that too. better yet, consider joining us at any of the scheduled million baby+ play-dates, consciousness arisings, georgia stone editing(s), & a host of other life promoting events. be there or be scared. gauaranteed to activate all your senses.

Too much infrastructure is using GPS (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436550)

First, there's no reason why a cell phone tower or an ATM should need GPS data to operate. There are many other ways to get timestamps, and in neither case is the facility likely to move much.

Anything important should have a GPS smart enough to tell when its data is no good. If you can receive from four satellites, you have enough information to tell if the data you're getting is bogus. Life-critical applications like aircraft should receive from GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo, and cross-check.

GPS satellites fail occasionally, and there are occasional gaps in coverage. Also bear in mind that GPS control is very centralized. It's run from Colorado Springs, and if the control center goes down, the constellation becomes inaccurate after a week or so.

Re:Too much infrastructure is using GPS (1)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436724)

Also bear in mind that GPS control is very centralized. It's run from Colorado Springs, and if the control center goes down, the constellation becomes inaccurate after a week or so.

That's not entirely true. Yes, the primary C2 facility for GPS is in Colorado Springs (Schriever Air Force Base, to be precise), but the Air Force has alternate facilities in different parts of the country that they can spin up in less than a day, should the need arise.

of course we are (1)

Nyder (754090) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436564)

we are too reliant on all technology.

If it all breaks down or stops working, we are fucked.

No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35436616)

And this is just another desperate intellectual struggling to find something to talk about.

"It's the Backup, stupid" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35436642)

Emphasis required:

The Academy says the range of applications using the technology is so vast that without adequate independent backup, signal failure or interference could potentially affect safety systems and other critical parts of the economy.

GPS isn't the problem, it's the lack of backup.

Just like how communities in earthquake areas have developed earthquake plans, we need to develop GPS-Down plans.

The RAE correctly points out that GPS has become a near ubiquitous solution, but without backup plans in place.

Which is an excellent technical question for /. -- what is a good, economical, backup plan for emergency services and industry? This thread shouldn't be drowning in water-cooler 'told-ya-so' and 'get-off-my-lawn'. It ought to be one of the better Ask Slashdot threads.

GPS and its competition (1)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 3 years ago | (#35436698)

Is the Royal Academy of Engineering in any way involved with Galileo, the European counterpart/competitor to GPS?
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?
or Connect with...

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>