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Galileo To Be Europe's Answer To US GPS

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the zombie-galileo-knows-how-to-get-to-grandma's-house dept.

EU 402

judgecorp writes "Two Galileo satellites that will signify the start of the European Union's answer to the American Global Positioning System will be launched into orbit on Thursday aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket. It's using Soyuz because it is cheaper than the French Ariane — and the satellite system is supposed to free Europe from dependence on a U.S.-controlled positioning system."

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402 comments

For such a vital system. (1)

EsbenMoseHansen (731150) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759234)

.. more redundancy is always better. This is probably some of my tax money that has been spent the best. Aside for those used to repair the roads, teach the children, take care of the sick and so on and so forth.

Re:For such a vital system. (2)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759272)

>>.. more redundancy is always better. This is probably some of my tax money that has been spent the best

GPS is great, sure, but IIRC Galileo isn't compatible without devices being modified to also accept Galileo signals. So this project is going to cost quite a bit of money in re-engineering and replacement costs for devices to use the new system in addition to GPS.

I don't buy that the stated purpose for the system (independence from the US's military) is very credible, given that the US is, you know, part of NATO and whatnot. And if the EU does turn hostile to the US in some sort of bizarro-world, the US possesses capabilities to shoot them down. So it doesn't make a lot of sense along those lines.

The improved technical features of Galileo over GPS, though, are quite nice.

Re:For such a vital system. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37759302)

GPS devices have a limited usable life anyways, at least the consumer devices. As the satellites are being shot into space and the system becomes operational new devices start to include also Galileo capability. The basic technology isn't that different from GPS, it isn't like going back to the 80's to develop the first GPS receivers again.

Not all of EU is in NATO. And it wouldn't be impossible for some of the EU states to shoot down the GPS satellites either.

Re:For such a vital system. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37759428)

"Not all of EU is in NATO. And it wouldn't be impossible for some of the EU states to shoot down the GPS satellites either."

WTF are you on about? Not everyone on the planet is psychotic warmonger! Yes there are lots of disagreements within the EU, Swizterland is technically not in the EU but they don't raise an army and start storming across the Alps, pen-knives in hand, spoiling for a fight every time they disagree on something with Italy or France!

Re:For such a vital system. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37759568)

You don't need everyone to be a warmonger. One nutcase in the wrong job will do it. Yugoslavia wasn't that long ago either. Shit does happen.

Re:For such a vital system. (2)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759578)

WTF are you on about? Not everyone on the planet is psychotic warmonger!

No they are not. But that does not mean you let them be the only one in control of important infrastructure. Its not like the US wouldn't do the same. Turning selective availability back on is not really a act of war... but rather a powerful negotiation tool if such a extreme situation comes up. With all the doom gloom and war that everyone here on /. predicts will result from AGW, then i think its prudent to have a backup.

Allies in one war are often enemies in the next.

Re:For such a vital system. (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759324)

There are more possible relationships than close cooperation and active war though. Suppose parts of Europe have a disagreement with Israel, or the US decides to support a war against Egypt or Turkey that the EU opposes. The US and the European countries aren't going to be shooting at each other or taking out each others satellites, but might decide that they don't want the enemies of their allies to use their GPS system.

Re:For such a vital system. (2)

julesh (229690) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759378)

The other scenario is that the US can shut down GPS if it believes it is being used by terrorists. The EU might not agree with that assessment, and want to keep it open. Having Galileo gives them that option.

Re:For such a vital system. (-1, Troll)

sosume (680416) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759338)

I don't buy that the stated purpose for the system (independence from the US's military) is very credible

The purpose is easy. Extract money from the citizens. That's the only purpose for which the EU exists. This time, through extra car taxes, measuring exactly how many miles you have driven. You'd expect this to reach the headlines - but no such thing. It's sad that Europeans have to read this news on US sites. Maybe that explains why so many Europeans feel the EU is an evil institute. But I bet nobody outside the EU ever hears about tat.

Re:For such a vital system. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37759420)

Get of the conspiracy bandwaggon. Galileo has been a major news item (at least in Germany; I remember several news items from the decision to create Galileo, over the first prototypes, over the massive cost overruns, etc...) and is not a black-helicopter type project. It was started when the US degraded GPS-performance during the Kosovo-conflict.

Re:For such a vital system. (2, Insightful)

cbope (130292) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759476)

Stop spreading FUD. Europeans do not believe the EU is an evil institute. Sure, there are disagreements and minor political conflicts from time to time, just as there are elsewhere, but to imply that all Europeans think the EU is evil is going just a tad too far. At least we are not under the complete control of corporations as in the US. The EU still has a spine, at times, to stand up for what the citizens want in the face of corporate pressure. It's not perfect but it's far better than the US at the moment. When was the last time US politicians did something for their citizens that was not acting in concert with some corporation or organization (**AAs, I'm looking at you)?

Re:For such a vital system. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37759516)

At least we are not under the complete control of corporations as in the US. The EU still has a spine, at times, to stand up for what the citizens want in the face of corporate pressure.

Great, here we go again, it always happens when Europeans disagree, that the US gets drawn in at some point even when they try to remain neutral.

Re:For such a vital system. (2)

neokushan (932374) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759626)

Speaking as a European, I'd just like to say that you're talking out of your arse. Yes, some europeans oppose the EU, however the majority aren't that idiotic and see it for what it is - good for everyone involved. If it wasn't for the EU, the economic crisis would have been 10x worse.

Re:For such a vital system. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37759726)

Speaking as a European, I'd just like to say that you're talking out of your arse. Yes, some europeans oppose the EU, however the majority aren't that idiotic and see it for what it is - good for everyone involved. If it wasn't for the EU, the economic crisis would have been 10x worse.

EU vital there's the single biggest joke of the century so far the EU needs scrapping it is cost the UK a sodding fortune it is forcing immigration we cant control no screw the living ***k out of the EU they all suck

Re:For such a vital system. (4, Funny)

mmcuh (1088773) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759784)

Did the immigrants come over and steal all your jobs, women and punctuation marks?

Re:For such a vital system. (5, Insightful)

peppepz (1311345) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759630)

EU citizens often get a negative view of the EU because national governments blame the EU for their own negligence. Inflation skyrockets? "It's the Euro's fault". They need to raise the minimum retirement age? "It's the EU that is asking this from us".

Also, nationalist movements gain consensus by opposing against yelding any sovereignty to the european institutions; this makes the EU weaker, which then allows themselves to point out the EU is just a bureaucratic superstructure with no decision power.

The nationalists whine against the EU when it's time for a state to offer its help to other countries in the union, and then whine again against the EU when it's time to get help from the union, and it doesn't arrive because the nationalists in the other states behave exactly in the same way as they did before (see what happens every time some states are hit by an immigration wave).

Re:For such a vital system. (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759710)

Well, to be fair the Euro was a fuckup (The problem wasn't the idea of creating a common currency, it was allowing the PIIGS into it) that's by now far beyond the control of the individual member states.

Re:For such a vital system. (2)

tinkerton (199273) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759804)

In the UK there seems to be a majority who thinks the EU is evil. This belief is fueled by a constant stream of anti-EU stories that are often nothing more than myths.

Re:For such a vital system. (5, Insightful)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759494)

The purpose is easy. Extract money from the citizens. That's the only purpose for which the EU exists.

Please spare us the "TAXES R T3H 3V1L" crap. I pay lots more tax here than I would in the US; however, unlike the case in the US, I find that at least some of the taxes get spent on things that tend to make life better for all.

It's sad that Europeans have to read this news on US sites.

Did you actually see where the links in TFS point to?

Maybe that explains why so many Europeans feel the EU is an evil institute. But I bet nobody outside the EU ever hears about tat.

"So many" = "a few right-wing nutjobs".

Nice attempt at trolling. Better luck next time.

Re:For such a vital system. (1)

migla (1099771) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759574)

I'm sure the EU can be perceived as an evil institute from a vantage point on the left too.

It could be characterized as a big fucking machine that can be used as tool for good, I guess, in opposition to other big fucking machines on this globe.

On the whole, I don't know if it's good or bad to have a big fucking machine like this. Good thing if we, the people, can wield it for democracy and good in the world, but really really bad if power is taken further away from the people and centralized to a big boot to pin us down. We'll see.

Re:For such a vital system. (2)

theVarangian (1948970) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759598)

Maybe that explains why so many Europeans feel the EU is an evil institute. But I bet nobody outside the EU ever hears about tat.

"So many" = "a few right-wing nut jobs".

To be fair that sentiment is shared by a few left wing nut jobs.

Re:For such a vital system. (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759538)

This time, through extra car taxes, measuring exactly how many miles you have driven.

I hate to point out the obvious, but this isn't necessarily a bad idea. Let's reverse the analogy; Granny and grandp send emails to their kids and occasionally buy a SlapChop from Amazon. They pay for a broadband connection, £10 per month for 1GB data cap (numbers pulled out of my ar... errr the air). This is the equivalent of "old lady who only goes to the shop once a week" car driver who would pay very little road tax. Then you have the 2x year old who pounds the tubes day in, day out, unlimited data cap and top-tier speeds. He pays £60 per month for that service. This is the rep or professional driver who is constantly on the road, and he pays more tax.

I think it makes more sense than paying for how much CO2 your car puts out, regardless of how often you drive.

Re:For such a vital system. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37759764)

In an ideal world that had no privacy concerns, the right way to do it would be to weight the taxation method to match the expected costs of climate change and road maintenance.

Somebody driving an ultra efficient low emissions car should still have to pay for wearing down the tarmac and all the benefits they get for road infrastructure, yes, but they shouldn't have to pay as much as somebody who gets the benefits of infrastructure while at the same time emitting large amounts of exhaust gases.

Re:For such a vital system. (2)

kubernet3s (1954672) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759652)

Are they really going to log the information of every satnav that communicates with Galileo, match it up to a car, and then send you a bill in the mail? GPS actually doesn't work like that (The GPS system can't figure out who's listening). Wouldn't you have to register with the Bureau of keeping track of weird things, just for them to know where to send the bill? Assuming this works at all. Which it doesn't. People seem to think that GPS satellites are something like sky cameras, that look down on you and tell you where you are. At least one conspiracy theory *requires this literally* http://ironiestoo.blogspot.com/2010/10/is-galileo-really-just-eu-big-brother.html [blogspot.com] Miraculously dumbassed stuff (signs on the road indeed!). Didn't we all just read Wikipedia's GPS entry after that CERN thing? And this is not to mention all the other reasons why a GPS system wouldn't (not just couldn't) function as a position monitor, including all those mentioned here, the construction of a multiple other GPS networks in other countries, and the lack of necessity for a NEW system, should the big bad EU want to get up to some mischief. Troll? The fact that there's a chance you're not is sad for us all

Re:For such a vital system. (0)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759342)

And if the EU does turn hostile to the US in some sort of bizarro-world, the US possesses capabilities to shoot them down. So it doesn't make a lot of sense along those lines.

You do realize that it's exactly statements like this that make us want to become as independent from the US as possible, right?

Re:For such a vital system. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37759556)

No, European nations could never be the dickheads that they make the US out to be right? Europe is built upon a history of tolerance and peace. Your smugness and uneducated stance amuses me.

Re:For such a vital system. (1)

Soluzar (1957050) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759736)

If I'm reading the comment right it has absolutely nothing to do with perceived moral rectitude. It has to do with being in the uncomfortable position at the muzzle end of a gun.

Re:For such a vital system. (4, Informative)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759364)

Before Galileo was decided, US did not give the ability to use the full precision of the GPS to non military US units. It also has the capacity to unilateraly switch off GPS on a zone. Galileo will be a civilian system, for anyone to use. Presumably always on.

About redundancy, note that 2 other positioning systems are currently deployed :
Chinese Beidou : https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Beidou_navigation_system [wikimedia.org]
Russian GLONASS : https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/GLONASS [wikimedia.org]

Re:For such a vital system. (1)

Barsteward (969998) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759372)

There were rumours years ago that the US only agreed to allow Galileo if they also had a "override and switch off" button.

Re:For such a vital system. (0, Troll)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759394)

I don't really see what the US can do about it. If you don't like it, stop bumming rides off us. Go and find someone else to help you lift your payloads into space, now that you have no viable launch vehicles. How are things between you and Iran these days? I hear they're making great progress towards reliable LEO delivery.

Re:For such a vital system. (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759534)

I hear they're making great progress towards reliable LEO delivery.

So they've moved on to lions now? I hear the chimpanzee thing didn't work out so great. ;)

Re:For such a vital system. (1)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759624)

The US strongly objected to the fact that the frequencies overlap. So you can't jam Galileo without also jamming GPS. The converse is not true. It is rumored that they overlap precisely for this reason. Also a minimum accuracy level (sufficient for civilian activities) of Galileo is suppose to be impossible to turn off, even by the EU.

I very much doubt that the EU put a off switch in for the US. We just don't get along that well. See the leaked diplomatic cables for proof. And how can the US not allow Galileo going forward? By shooting them down?

Re:For such a vital system. (2)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759632)

As far as I can tell the truth is this.

The US has the ability to override, switch off, lower accuracy etc with their GPS system.
They will not have the ability to do that with Galileo.

Originally the EU had also planned to have Galileo use the same frequency that GPS does, which means that not only could the US not turn it off, they couldn't jam it either because then they'd jam themselves too.

However after threatening to shoot any Galileo satellites using the GPS frequency down, the EU finally agreed to use different frequencies so jamming would be possible.

Re:For such a vital system. (5, Insightful)

jandersen (462034) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759418)

I don't buy that the stated purpose for the system (independence from the US's military) is very credible, given that the US is, you know, part of NATO and whatnot. And if the EU does turn hostile to the US in some sort of bizarro-world, the US possesses capabilities to shoot them down. So it doesn't make a lot of sense along those lines.

Military alliances like NATO have their place, but I think a major part of this is not about being America's enemy, only about independence. Is it in Europe's interest to not feel they have to bow to America's political pressure? I should certainly think so. America is far to much in the pockets of big corporations, and as long as that is so, I think a politically weaker America is in everybody elses interest - and possibly in the American people's interest as well.

Re:For such a vital system. (4, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759720)

Here in Norway we're almost 5 million people and our largest military threat - despite it being post-Cold War is Russia, which is a huge country who could field more soldiers than we have people. If NATO won't help we're screwed anyway and if NATO comes people expect the cavalry to come charging to our rescue anyway. But is the US interested in protecting people that can't be bothered to have a decent defense of their own? If everybody is betting on NATO to aid them, who'll be the ones delivering all the aid? Would you seriously accept the logic on anything that "They have tanks, so we don't have to" "They have carriers, so we don't have to" "They have submarines, so we don't have to". No, Europe should have its Galileo because it's ours even though the US has theirs and we're allies. An alliance should come on top of your own defense, not instead of it.

Re:For such a vital system. (1, Insightful)

Evtim (1022085) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759508)

ShakaUVM says: I don't buy that the stated purpose for the system (independence from the US's military) is very credible, given that the US is, you know, part of NATO and whatnot

Well, you better buy it, because Galileo is an old project which so far was crippled solely due to politics. Already back in the days when http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madeleine_Albright [wikipedia.org] was secretary of state she was in Europe trying to stop the project using any pressure available. It was on the news.

Now, let us through away the polit-speak and polit-correctness for a moment and view the situation from purely pragmatic point. OK, ready?

Now, you are an empire. You control most of the world seas, have military bases in more than 100 countries (blatantly breaking even the agreement about Antarctica), your currency is the world currency, your language is lingua franka. Your military is larger than the rest of the world combined. Also, your military doctrine states that any attempt by any nation to diminish your almost complete dominance in space would be considered an act of war. You also do not subscribe to almost any international agreements that can even potentially harm your revenue, cultural, political or military dominance. Add to that the fact that in realpolitik there are no friends as such, only temporary collaborations with others that happen to have the same agenda or are benefiting from yours.

And empires in particular cannot have friends (even if there were friends in politics), only protectorates or enemies. By being so dominant you inadvertently position yourself as the enemy of everyone else. Sooner or later.

Now, last time I said on /. that the you-know-who is an Empire with all that implies, I was modded troll. Now, please do as you please, but try to think about this, read history, read between the lines and above all, find an intelligent military officer that can tell you what exactly they teach them in West Point. Then read history again. And remember - any other nation would behave the in the same way. Just don't fall for the "we are all friends and allies here, hell bent on promoting life, happiness and democracy all over the world"

Re:For such a vital system. (1)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759654)

The US does not really hold this position, at least not for a while. Its holding on, but only just and not from a position of power. And most don't think for much longer. Not as the dominate player. May still be the bully in the school yard though. But that is not the same thing.

Re:For such a vital system. (1)

peppepz (1311345) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759704)

And if the EU does turn hostile to the US in some sort of bizarro-world, the US possesses capabilities to shoot them down. So it doesn't make a lot of sense along those lines.

They wouldn't even need to shoot down anything because Galileo, by request of the USA, uses different frequencies than GPS, so the USA can jam it on their territory (or elsewhere) without disrupting the correct operation of GPS.

Re:For such a vital system. (1)

mmcuh (1088773) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759768)

From the start Galileo was designed to be even more "GPS independent", for example it was going to use the same frequency band as GPS so that the US couldn't use ground-based interference signals to block it without also blocking their own GPS in the same region. But someone scared them out of that.

Re:For such a vital system. (1)

Plammox (717738) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759294)

From what I heard, this was the unfortunate (for EU) consequence of the US answering "go f*** yourselves" to the EU demand of US forking over the GPS system to UN-control. The empty threat of building our own now has to become a reality. Yay for more jobs in the EU private space sector, though.

Re:For such a vital system. (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759580)

Private space sector? Really?

Because I could've *sworn* the clean room I saw a Galileo satellite being prepared in was owned by ESA...

Re:For such a vital system. (1)

Plammox (717738) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759660)

This may be, but a global positioning system consists of much more than just the satellite. In the country I live in now, private companies are delivering the infrastructure (think: ground antennas and control systems) to ESA, so yes, a lot of larger and smaller subcontractors are involved.

Re:For such a vital system. (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759668)

It may at a push be private sector, but its certainly not normal, commercial private sector.

Galileo is ultimately an ESA project, even if they contract out to the private sector. Hopefully, some of the revenue it generates will go into non-profit spaceflight.

Re:For such a vital system. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37759680)

But it was build by...?

Just because a building is owned by the government it doesn't mean that the construction company for the building has to be owned by the government too. Same is valid for satellites or rockets.

Re:For such a vital system. (1)

phayes (202222) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759496)

more redundancy is always better

Not necessarily. This is less adding a spare tire in the trunk that can be used to replace a flat on one of the existing tires & more the first few pieces of a new & incompatible wheel attachment system that has been devised to keep european space workers busy. In a decade or two once all the pieces have been installed and a distribution network is set up it may actually turn out to be a better system but to be able to use it you're going to have to pay through the nose.
The definition of better depends on who you are. Clearly better for the space workers & people who need the upgrades & are willing to pay for them. Not necessarily better for people happy with the existing setup.

Re:For such a vital system. (1)

EsbenMoseHansen (731150) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759566)

Competition will drive the prices down. As for keeping existing setup,. few keeps their existing equipment for very long. I certainly buy a new car GPS every few (5?) years, because (a) batteries sucks after a while and (b) they get better and (c) I am too lazy to buy new maps. Admittedly, (a) and (b) has a big influence on (c).

Re:For such a vital system. (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759656)

Actually GPS is by far not the only one. Russia currently overhauls its old Glonass System which should be up to par in a few years, and I assume China also is working on its own system.
And I agree the more the better to have redundancy.

Launching from Kourou (2)

Eunuchswear (210685) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759242)

This is the first Soyuz launch from French Guiana.

(And so this is the first launch of a possibly man-ratable launcher by ESA).

Re:Launching from Kourou (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37759280)

Actually, the Soyuz launch pad is 20km West of the Ariane launch pad, in Sinnamary.

CNES' web site about the event: http://www.cnes.fr/web/CNES-fr/4108-soyouz-en-guyane.php

Photo set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/esa_events/sets/72157627767903603/show/

Re:Launching from Kourou (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37759408)

Pedantry is the new trolling.

At least you stand in the great tradition of Futurama that "technically correct is the best kind of correct!".

Re:Launching from Kourou (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759648)

Pedantry is the new trolling.

At least you stand in the great tradition of Futurama that "technically correct is the best kind of correct!".

And politically correct is the worst.

New taxes.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37759264)

The Galileo system is also an important part of the new car taxing scheme... Where you basicly pay taxes from the distance you drive. Now only if those cheap chinese GPS jammers would block Galileo signal too...!(?)

Re:New taxes.... (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759358)

References? First time I hear of this...

I'm sure it isn't impossible that this is a reason, but then taxing on actual road usage would be the fairest anyway. ;-)

Re:New taxes.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37759448)

I think he's thinking of federal plans to tax all road travel by requiring special GPS devices to be installed in cars [forbes.com].

No, wait, that's the United States of Freetopia that's planning on doing that. Note that article's from this month. You might remember that the US at a federal level and a whole bunch of states keep on trying to sneak this through and keep on failing to suppress public outcry long enough to pass it, but it's never been killed once and for all.

No idea about programs like it in Europe, but it's definitely happening in the US. The only question now is when.

Re:New taxes.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37759468)

"GPS" based toll systems are occasionally floated and shot down. They will pass eventually: People who stand to earn billions from such pork barrel projects can be quite tenacious. (Most recent attempt that I know of: German Greens politician Winfried Kretschmann wants a GPS based toll system for passenger cars. [heise.de])

Re:New taxes.... (1)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759540)

What’s especially funny is that by the time these toll systems gain wide adoption, they will become irrelevant.

I believe that in the next two decades we’re going to see really autonomous automobiles, i.e., self-driving cars. They will mark the beginning of the end of the era of a personally-owned vehicle, as well as parking space issues. These cars will have all it takes to become public transportation (also, automatic carpooling via mobile phone), with cars being owned by municipalities instead of individuals. Which will also mean the downfall of taxi drivers – however, used car salesmen will get screwed too.

Taxation by distance traveled will therefore become obsolete; you will be paying by distance traveled anyway. Though I guess not only municipalities will purchase those cars; taxi companies might purchase them as well (same income, albeit with no need to pay any drivers!), but I don’t really care how exactly they are taxed.

Re:New taxes.... (1)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759674)

I really hope so. I think it will take longer however, mostly for liability and perceived safety reasons. People are just happier if it was another person that stuffed it up and killed them or their loved ones. They get all stuck on punishment and revenge and blame when its a machine.

Re:New taxes.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37759472)

This is on the all over the news in Finland these days.

Here's the big picture of the EU plan: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2011:0144:FIN:EN:PDF

Re:New taxes.... (1)

lordholm (649770) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759684)

That is a general policy document, it does not mention the use of GPS or Galileo at all. Most of the document also only apply to freight, rail and air transport.

Some parts of the document is about personal vehicles, but there is nothing concrete mentioned except that congestion charges should not be avoided by non-local cars. Essentially they are in some cases when they are based on ANPR tech like in London and Stockholm.

The document does say the Union will develop guidelines for states that wish to implement certain measures for congestion / pollution taxes, but it does not say anything about forcing this on the member states. This is harmonization for the states that want to, not a top down directive forcing the member states to do something.

If a state want GPS-devices in cars, they can do so (though this hasn't been tried with the human right courts, I am only looking at the document itself), but the EU will not force them to. I suggest that if your state wish to implement GPS-devices, you take up the issue with your MP.

Essentially, the doc says something like this: the Union should develop rules so that if a state wish to do X, then X must comply with Y, but the Union will not force the state to do X if they do not want to.

Re:New taxes.... (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759740)

See the UK Department for Transport publications on Road Pricing [dft.gov.uk]

A quick search through documents, e.g. "Issue 4, dealing with potential fraud ... " reveals the "European Electronic Toll Service".

General reading through the documents will reveal this is a scheme for taxing road use via the use of a "black box" with a positioning system and a GSM cellular modem. I've seen other DfT documents which I can no longer locate which are clearer on the matter of integration with a European system.

Of course, any such system also provides the capability of snooping where any vehicle in the target area travels.

Some back-of-napkin costings also reveal that a system like this is an order of magnitude more expensive to both install and run than mandatory active RFID tags in license plates and pickup loops at the ends of target roads (the original justification is that this will reduce congestion at peak times on these roads). On the other hand, RFID systems do not have the advantage of tracking your every movement.

I might be mis-remembering it, but I recall that Galileo specifically mentioned for it's improved performance in urban areas as compared to GPS.

Re:New taxes.... (1)

lordholm (649770) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759380)

A bit off-topic, but anyway...

Are you talking about the Dutch proposal? I thought it was dead after the new government came into power a year ago. In any case, with the exception of the Orwellian nightmare points this generates, it is a pointless waste of money exercise since people already pays per km by paying high petrol taxes. If the government needs the money, raise the petrol taxes! If it is to reduce car traffic, it will not be as efficient as raising petrol taxes since I see this every day. If I get a bill at the end of the month/year for my driven km, I will most likely not think of it in the meanwhile.

This will also generate huge headaches when planning your own finances, since the bills will be very difficult to forecast.

I suppose, you may want to reconsider when every single car runs on electricity, but I am not sure about whether that is needed; when that happens all that oil money that was payed to foreign powers, will stop flowing out of the country and most likely be available for local investments (assuming electricity is produced domestically).

I would really like to see some independent review of these proposals, do you know of any?

Re:New taxes.... (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759382)

And what would this do that GPS wouldn't?

Sounds like scaremongering to me. If they want to put a blackbox in your car, they just need to make it law. The technical way they do it is neither here nor there and does *not* require Galileo in any way. Hell, they could do it the same way London runs the Congestion Charge Zone, or the way the DART tag works for the Dartford tunnel, or a myriad European countries manage their motorways charging, or just putting 10p on petrol.

Stop spreading bullshit. Road taxation is a completely separate issue that does NOT require (and never has required) Galileo. Hell, it doesn't even require GPS.

Re:New taxes.... (2, Interesting)

rapiddescent (572442) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759414)

our local OWASP chapter had a great demo from a Cambridge university (UK) researcher who could effectively jam GPS signals and make the GPS receiver believe it was somewhere else. Very cool tech, using GNU-radio and a whole lot of talent. The basic theme was that the GPS protocols are not trustable and todays society places way too much trust in the system.

This also coincides with a major naval exercise off the north coast of Scotland (where extensive GPS jamming was taking place) which ended up with a fishing vessel unable to make a distress call using the automated "big red button". The exercise was hastily stopped as islanders services stopped working (including internet) - it turns out that a lot of civil infrastructure relies on GPS.

With a foreign power in control of GPS, the EU had to respond. The USA is not the closest allie to European countries (including the UK) as you would think. The USA stood by for 2 years whilst france & belgium were invaded and also stayed neutral when the UK administered Falkland islands (Islas malvinas) were invaded in 1981 by the argentians.

next job: Internet.

Re:New taxes.... (2)

theVarangian (1948970) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759750)

With a foreign power in control of GPS, the EU had to respond. The USA is not the closest allie to European countries (including the UK) as you would think. The USA stood by for 2 years whilst france & belgium were invaded and also stayed neutral when the UK administered Falkland islands (Islas malvinas) were invaded in 1981 by the argentians.

That's not quite fair. The WWI and WWII invasions of Belgium and France were pre-NATO and the USA had no obligations to intervene. The Falklands war placed the US in a pickle, firstly Argentina had some support in S-America and they could hardly intervene without creating a diplomatic mess, secondly any help from the USA for Britain would have been deeply humiliating to the latter. As it was the British succeeded by the skin of their teeth so no harm was done. The US also provided diplomatic help behind the scenes by securing either the cooperation or neutrality of several S-American nations in favor of the Brits.

Re:New taxes.... (2)

jandersen (462034) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759450)

The Galileo system is also an important part of the new car taxing scheme... Where you basicly pay taxes from the distance you drive

Which is a very sensible way to do i, since you are going to pay road tax anyway. To me it makes a lot of sense that Mr and Mrs Peterson, who drive about 5 miles every day, would pay less, whereas lorrydrivers and others who drive tens of thousands of miles every year whould pay a lot more. After all, they pollute more and they wear the road surfaces dwn more.

It seems so typically American to roll out the big scarecrows of "The Evil Government" and "The Evil Taxes" instead of stepping back and thinking about things. (I know, most Americans actually do exactly that, but you never hear from them).

You know, in Europe people are not 1) paranoid about the government - possibly because we actually believe in our democracy, and 2) we are not against paying tax, even high taxes, if we can see that it is fair.

Re:New taxes.... (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759470)

I don't mind paying taxes, in fact I think the UK could do with a bit more tax at the higher end, but I don't trust David Cameron at all. Largely because he wants to privatise the NHS instead of raising taxes on the wealthy (low by European standards atm).

Also, he is a fucking lizard.

Re:New taxes.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37759602)

Which is a very sensible way to do i, since you are going to pay road tax anyway. To me it makes a lot of sense that Mr and Mrs Peterson, who drive about 5 miles every day, would pay less, whereas lorry drivers and others who drive tens of thousands of miles every year whould pay a lot more. After all, they pollute more and they wear the road surfaces dwn more.

(Emphasis mine)
Personally, I think it would be better if they abolish VED entirely and increased tax on fuel. That way taxation would be tied to consumption and people would have an incentive to drive more efficient (and in many cases, smaller/lighter) vehicles. Moreover, it would silence those who bang on about foreign lorries not paying for the wear and tear they cause on British roads.

You know, in Europe people are not 1) paranoid about the government - possibly because we actually believe in our democracy,

I disagree; there's a great deal of disillusionment with politics, particularly about our representatives being found to have committed fraud with expense claims and getting away scot free*.

and 2) we are not against paying tax, even high taxes, if we can see that it is fair.

In principle, yes. However, whichever country you look at you'll always find people who don't want to pay for services that they don't use, often because they're wealthy enough to afford superior options in the private sector. In Britain we call them Tories :)

*I'm going further and further off-topic here but this really boils my blood. If, say, I claim benefits fraudulently I don't just have to pay them back; I go to prison. I don't just get a metaphorical slap on the wrist and an admonition never to do it again.
There's a distinct lack of accountability for politicians but I've little doubt that this is the same the world over.

Re:New taxes.... (2)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759702)

I would say the in Europe people have a healthy paranoia about the government. But we are far less adverse to taxation if it makes sense. If we really are serious about the externalities caused by CO2 then it needs to have regulated cost. Just as one example.

Duke Nukem forever has arrived (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37759300)

We might as well have Galileo too. Not that it matters, because our push-over politicians agreed to change the design so that the USA can jam Galileo without affecting their military GPS.

Re:Duke Nukem forever has arrived (4, Informative)

damburger (981828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759388)

OK, I'm a European and not massively fond of the US military, but I am going to take exception to this.

The Galileo *civilian* band originally overlapped with the US *military* band. In other words, you could buy an over the counter device that could guide a weapon to a specific grid reference in an area the US was fighting a war. Remember the rocket forces Hezbollah were able to deploy against Israel? Imagine that with GPS targetting that you can't jam without blinding your own forces.

The US asked ESA to pretty-please-with-sugar-on-top not make consumer devices that had dual uses killing US servicemen. ESA said 'ooh, go on you old rascal' and moved the band.

Now, the situation is that both Navstar (the actual name for US GPS; GPS is just the generic name for such a system) and Galileo have civilian and military bands that don't overlap. Either the US and Europe can jam each others signals, completely, without affecting their own military band. Just as the US can achieve exclusive GPS access in Iraq and Afghanistan, France can do just the same when it unilaterally intervenes in one of its old African colonies.

All the change did was move us from a situation where we were screwing the Americans with our network, to one where we have equal power to screw each others network. This doesn't seem massively unreasonable of the US to ask for.

Re:Duke Nukem forever has arrived (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37759422)

The primary point of Galileo was to have a system that would not be at the whim of the US. Otherwise we could just keep using GPS for civilian purposes and save our money. We can argue whether it is a good idea to make Galileo "unjammable" by overlapping GPS military frequencies, but without that there's hardly a reason for setting up a very costly alternative system.

Re:Duke Nukem forever has arrived (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759434)

Galileo is better (kind of inevitable, being about 30 years newer). Also, I believe the idea is that a GPS system can get back its launch and development costs by licensing receiver chips. This is a profit making enterprise, which hopefully will mean more money in the long run available for other European space endeavours.

Re:Duke Nukem forever has arrived (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37759528)

It if were a profitable enterprise, then we wouldn't have to pump billions of Euros of taxpayer money into it. It is a pork barrel project. Licensing chips for a marginally better system that is no more reliable than GPS, when GPS chips are already widely available, and the Chinese, whose chips are certainly going to be cheaper, are building their own GPS? Good luck with that. Nope, Galileo will never have a positive ROI (not for the taxpayer, that is), and with the strategic aspect shot, we should've scrapped the project.

Re:Duke Nukem forever has arrived (1)

GauteL (29207) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759692)

Thanks for debunking the whole "push-over" politicians angle. Let me just add that those old rascals over in the US are, after all, our allies. I for one, don't think avoiding needlessly killing our allies is the same as bending over to give them better access to our backside.

Re:Duke Nukem forever has arrived (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37759730)

Just like the US can degrade their own GPS, Europe could degrade or disable Galileo regionally to protect its allies. What the US wanted and got was that the US won't have to ask. That IS being pushed over by bullies, not being convinced by allies. Overlapping the GPS military frequencies doesn't make Galileo completely unjammable: It would have meant that the Galileo civilian frequencies could not have been disabled without cooperating with Europe or also jamming GPS military frequencies.

Re:Duke Nukem forever has arrived (1)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759734)

The Galileo *civilian* band originally overlapped with the US *military* band. In other words, you could buy an over the counter device that could guide a weapon to a specific grid reference in an area the US was fighting a war. Remember the rocket forces Hezbollah were able to deploy against Israel? Imagine that with GPS targetting that you can't jam without blinding your own forces.

No you can't. Both GPS and Galileo civilian devices are speed, acceleration and altitude limited. No rocket would work with it. Even our armature rockets had too high acceleration and too high speeds to allow for GPS tracking through most of its flight trajectory.

However they did not ask nicely with the overlapping bands. The US was aggressive about it. Very aggressive. I didn't track the debate to its conclusion. I was still under the impression that the bands still overlap.

Re:Duke Nukem forever has arrived (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759788)

Even if you can't work around speed limitations, just make a GPS guided drone from a model aircraft. Its still a danger in the hands of a competent and imaginative asymmetric opponent

It was quite an aggressive move to make our network attack the military utility of theirs in the first place. IIRC the whole thing was part of the spat between Bush and Chirac, both of whom are now out of office. Unsurprising that the issue is now resolved, then.

Good for Europe (0)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759304)

Geez, those Americans really plotted this one out, didn't they? Spend billions launching and maintaining a constellation of satellites for military targeting, then make that available to civilians, and not even restrict it to US citizens! They made the whole world dependent on GPS, those evil fuckers. That was their plan all along. Fortunately, far-sighted souls in the European government saw through this ruse. Now Europe is rightfully making themselves independent of the Wall Street-controlled US government. Right on! Hit Americans where it hurts.

Re:Good for Europe (2)

jandersen (462034) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759396)

Feeling a bit sore? America is neither our enemy nor our bestest friend ever. America is just a friendly nation; well, mostly friendly, and you guys have certainly always known how to look after your own interests, friendship or not. Which is why it makes sense for Europe not to be too dependent on America. We have our own interests to look after, and a closer relation with China ought to be very much in the cards for us. Being too dependent on America might be a hindrance.

Re:Good for Europe (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759600)

China has their own GPS network already up and operating. Why not use them, as they're Europe's new BFF?

Re:Good for Europe (1)

GauteL (29207) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759706)

"China has their own GPS network already up and operating. Why not use them, as they're Europe's new BFF?"

What part of his post did you not understand? If it makes sense not to be too reliant on our friend the US, it sure does not make sense to be too reliant on our new "friend", China.

Re:Good for Europe (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759406)

Wow -- what a facetious and ignorant comment.

Actually, Europe would be quite happy to sponge off our GPS satellite network, except for the fact that it's run by our military and we reserve the right to downgrade it's accuracy or shut-off civilin use completely, at any time and for any reason.

So yeah, when you have the majority of the world living OUTSIDE the US and with no control, you can't fault them for wanting to come up with a system they can control.

Of course, just to show what good chums we are, we already stated we'd shoot Galileo NavSats down if we even suspected China (a galileo partner nation) was using them in any military action against our interests. http://www.spacedaily.com/news/milspace-04zc.html

AMERICUH FUCKYA!

Good news, bad news, worse news (0)

damburger (981828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759334)

Good news - with this, the repair of the Russian GLONASS network, and the new Chinese Beidou network, a device will have four satellite networks to choose from to get a signal from

Bad news - this likely won't mean it gets a lock on its position any quicker, due to technical reasons. Essentially, the device has to listen for a few seconds to receive the complete signal.

Worse news - each network will require its own proprietary chip, so increased access to GPS networks will come with increased cost, complexity, heat and power issues.

Re:Good news, bad news, worse news (5, Informative)

julesh (229690) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759404)

Bad news - this likely won't mean it gets a lock on its position any quicker, due to technical reasons. Essentially, the device has to listen for a few seconds to receive the complete signal.

Worse news - each network will require its own proprietary chip, so increased access to GPS networks will come with increased cost, complexity, heat and power issues.

Good news -- you have been misinformed. Single chip GPS/Galileo IC with sub-1-second acquisition [prnewswire.co.uk] and similar power usage to current GPS-only chips.

Re:Good news, bad news, worse news (0)

damburger (981828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759426)

This is memory though, and perhaps I was wrong. A combined chip might be able to get acquisition down more than it was implied to me was possible, by some trick utilising both networks at once.

On the other hand, what you are citing is a press release by a company that wants to sell GPS receiver chips. Its in their interest to massage their performance figures. The question is how do *they* define acquisition and when do they measure the start of the acquisition time from. I would want more information.

Re:Good news, bad news, worse news (2)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759770)

Having worked on GPS type things in the past both systems are very similar and the electronics is not hard to do these days, and because they are so similar the development costs won't be high. Hell someone on Makeit did their own GPS receiver *without* a gps chip. Very cool.

Independant of the US? (1)

Trevelyan (535381) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759502)

Didn't the US push the EU to allow them to be able to downgrade the Galileo signal, effectively giving the US a Galileo veto?

At least that's my memory from, I think, 2004.

Re:Independant of the US? (2)

damburger (981828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759558)

No.

The US asked for the Galileo civilian signal to be moved so it didn't overlap with the US military one. In the original scheme, they wouldn't have been able to block civilian Galileo devices in warzones without blocking their own military signal.

The capabilities of Galileo are unaffected. The civilian accuracy is still better than US military accuracy, but now you wouldn't be able to use it anywhere the US military is fighting.

Galileo is important for aviation (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37759512)

For the aviation Galileo is important.
Because with Galileo it is possible to determine if the coordinates are really accurate. I.e. satellites can fail, but with Galileo one knows that there is a failure.
Currently in aviation, GPS cannot be a primary instrument. Galileo makes this possible. Furthermore it makes it even possible to forget about strict highway lanes in the sky. Because every plane knows it's exact position.

Re:Galileo is important for aviation (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759552)

Ever watch Air Crash Investigations (called Mayday in some countries)? Even with redundant GPS, getting rid of air corridors would be a terrible, terrible idea.

Why haven't they learn from Motorola/Irridium? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37759688)

No one will use the service, satellites will burn in the atmosphere, financial losses will be unbearable, and finally Google will buy EU because of EU patents.

Ready for TAX AS YOU DRIVE? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37759714)

No doubt the new system will require ALL GPS devices that use this system to have a built in tracker so the government knows where you are all the time. And it will probably also be mandated into all cars... prepare for the new 'TAX AS YOU DRIVE' road tax they were talking about. If you think this for any other reason than 'independence' from the USA, you are dead wrong. This is about CONTROL and TAXES.

ACCURACY! (1)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759776)

I read somewhere that Galileo is 10x more "accurate" than the U.S. GPS. Aside from what exactly does that mean (absolute positioning, relative positioning) does anyone know if this is true? I can think of a whole host of new applications or applications that could be made a lot cheaper/easier (like autonomous vehicles) if this is true.

And if it is true, how do they achieve it? Better atomic clocks (in orbit presumably)? Better algorithms? Better knowledge of the satellites positions? Better receivers?

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