×

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!

Global Positioning Without GPS

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the where-we-are dept.

Communications 82

GadgetMike sends word of an award to Boeing for work on a Robust Positioning System that could make use of cell signals, television transmissions, and other clues to provide position information when GPS is unavailable. (Wonder if they've heard about Skyhook Wireless, which does a similar job based on Wi-Fi hotspots, for 2500 US cities and towns.) The work is being sponsored by the US military, so it's not surprising that they don't want to rely on upcoming GPS enhancers or replacements from France, China, and Russia. Here is the Boeing press release.

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

82 comments

Seems kinda familiar... (3)

5, Troll (919133) | more than 6 years ago | (#18825501)

Reminds me of that near-field locater thingy they had in Aliens...

Hudson: This signal's weird...must be some interference or something. There's movement all over the place...

Hudson: Nine meters. Eight...!

Ripley: Can't be. That's inside the room!

Hudson: It's readin' right. Look!

Hicks: Well you're not reading it right!

secrnd prist (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18825509)

<A TARGET="_top" HREF="http://ad.doubleclick.net/click%3B
h=v8/353b/3/0/%2a/n%3B98028193%3B1-0%3B0%3B1658059 6%3B3454-728/90%3B19625317/196432
11/1%3B%3B%7Efdr%3D99151641%3B0-0%3B0%3B13358346%3 B4307-300/250%3B20801624/20819517/
1%3B%3B%7Esscs%3D%3fhttp://www.americanexpress.com /cardfinder/apply.cgi?24/16299/b/9"><IMG SRC="http://m1.2mdn.net/1297440/bgr_attri0_728x090 _20K.jpg" BORDER=0></A>
Post Comment
Edit Comment You are not logged in. You can log in now using the convenient form below, or Create an Account, or post as Anonymous Coward.

Not a new idea really (4, Informative)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#18825519)

Pilots have used VOR http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VHF_omnidirectional_r ange [wikipedia.org] for a long time. Knowing the lat/lon position of other radio beacons and being able to detect them is (IIRC) something that was experimented with for robotic vehicles.

Using geo-data and good state of the art receivers, it would be possible to locate your position reasonably accurately if you have many landmark transmitting beacons. The trouble is making those receivers small enough to be useful. Of course, this might not work too well in the middle of a desert but would function well enough for many problems.

not really a new secure idea (3, Insightful)

ushering05401 (1086795) | more than 6 years ago | (#18825919)

This idea seems pretty flimsy..

If you are incorporating known, ground based beacons/signals to provide positioning data wouldn't it be easy enough for the enemy to emulate those beacons/signals from some location near to the real one to create multiple signatures and distort positioning data? Wouldn't this confuse the proposed system?

All it would require is transmitting eq that you could fit into a small, mobile (cargo van type) container. Now you have to a: track down the false signatures & have response teams to eliminate dupe signals, or b: rely solely on satellite signals which is what GPS does.

Am I making any sense?

Regards.

Re:not really a new secure idea (5, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#18825973)

Well, if you were relying on single source beacons, that might be true. But think of all the commercial beacons that are available, from TV and radio stations, to emergency radio towers, ham radio repeaters, VOR beacons... there are hundreds of radio beacons around you, no matter where you live in the civilized world. All of these, when incorporated into a positioning scheme, become more or less redundant sources of triangulation that would have to be disabled in some form or another to stop this from working. It would take a lot of effort to disable such a system as they do not rely on the same infrastructure or control systems.

Re:not really a new secure idea (2, Informative)

ushering05401 (1086795) | more than 6 years ago | (#18826045)

An excellent point when considering developed countries.

What about use in Afghanistan, though? Even Iraq in the months directly following the invasion when power and basic utilities were scarce? The number of measurable signals would have been cut harshly and the ability to confuse such a system would have increased.

I have no doubt about the viability of the signal/location system in good circumstances. I remember navigating on flight-sims using the system.

I am worried about more military money going into a system that assumes even a reasonable level of infrastructure stability to operate. Adding to that, I am concerned about all of the military's pet projects.. the failure of an initiative (ie. the Osprey project which has killed many servicemen and is now being deployed in combat situations) only justifies further spending, not review of standards and procedures.

Maybe I am dissillusioned, but I don't see this working in ultra-harsh conditions. Sattelites seem safer.

Re:not really a new secure idea (1)

mazarin5 (309432) | more than 6 years ago | (#18826621)

Well, number one is that this is a backup in case the satellites are unavailable.
Number two is that in the case of absolute failure, they're no worse off than they are today.

Re:not really a new secure idea (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 6 years ago | (#18831057)

This idea seems pretty flimsy... If you are incorporating known, ground based beacons/signals to provide positioning data wouldn't it be easy enough for the enemy to emulate those beacons/signals from some location near to the real one to create multiple signatures and distort positioning data? Wouldn't this confuse the proposed system?

This technology could have other military applications. You could use it to send homing missiles to target specific signals. The Russians have already killed a Chechnen leader with a missile that homed in on his satellite phone [bbc.co.uk]. It wouldn't be a stretch of the imagination to think that the US military wouldn't be trying to do the same kind of thing for other types of signals. They could target specific radio/television broadcasters, moving transmitters, and/or specific cell tower/radio infrastructures. And this technology could still be used as an additional system in addition to the gps system, to supplement the gps information just in case.

And yes, counter-measures could be taken I suppose, but those counter-measures would impose a real cost to the enemy. Being in a war with the United States is hard enough, but being paranoid about your telecommunication infrastructure acting as a beacon for an incoming missile -- makes it harder still. Just ask Osama Bin Laden, some journalists are speculating [cooperativeresearch.org] that he personally stopped using his satellite phone since 1998 -- for fear of being tracked and/or targeted by a homing missile.

Re:Not a new idea really (2, Interesting)

drix (4602) | more than 6 years ago | (#18826401)

I think this is a new idea. It sounds like they want to construct a radionavigation system that doesn't require any new hardware outlay, based instead on the known locations of various cell towers and TV transmitters. When you consider that the investment in equipment and maintenance in GPS runs into the tens of billions of dollars, this approach is nothing short of revolutionary.

Second, there's really no issue with acquiring a GPS lock in an airplane, since you have unobstructed access to no less than 10 signals at any one time. Where GPS fails is in cities, forest, indoors, etc. But those are absolutely swimming in radio, TV and cell signals. If this system really works, it would be a boon to hikers and drivers who are plagued by spotty GPS reception.

Re:Not a new idea really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18828325)

I had a LORAN receiver in the 80's that worked off of FM radio stations.

REally old idea, that was invented in the 40's for WW-II and abandoned when GPS came online.

In Case of Attack... (1)

HiggsBison (678319) | more than 6 years ago | (#18825547)

Alright, so let me see if I have this straight: If some other country tries to fire a missle at the United States, and we want to deprive them of accurate positioning, the United States would have to blow up a bunch of cell towers in the United States. Right?

Re:In Case of Attack... (4, Insightful)

cduffy (652) | more than 6 years ago | (#18825687)

This is more a matter of removing the motive for $OTHER_COUNTRY to try to confuse the US's offensive infrastructure by destroying disabling our GPS satellites. It works both ways, obviously, if $OTHER_COUNTRY is using similar technology -- but any missile which is going to do really significant damage will be able to get close enough to where it needs to be using inertial guidance, so the example you give isn't a serious concern.

Moreover, disabling GPS is really an asymmetric threat -- it's easy to do (if you're China, for whom the necessary technology is already a sunk cost), and has an impact on your opponent far greater than its marginal cost. Avoiding unfavorable asymmetric threats is a Good Thing.

Re:In Case of Attack... (1)

ozbird (127571) | more than 6 years ago | (#18825915)

This is more a matter of removing the motive for $OTHER_COUNTRY to try to confuse the US's offensive infrastructure by destroying disabling our GPS satellites.

1) Why destroy when jamming is easier and cheaper?
2) How much of this is a genuine survivability requirement than just hubris about using someone else's system (or everybody else's systems together)?

Re:In Case of Attack... (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 6 years ago | (#18826465)

1) Why destroy when jamming is easier and cheaper?
I left out a key word there, but my intended phrasing was "destroy or disable"; jamming falls into the latter category. That said, jamming is more of a local defensive measure than an asymmetric attack; it doesn't have the same impact on civilian or commercial operations and other interests (ie. ability to wage war in theaters other than that in which the immediate conflict is taking place).

2) How much of this is a genuine survivability requirement than just hubris about using someone else's system (or everybody else's systems together)?
I'm not qualified to address that, except to note that survivability is very much a legitimate concern, and that having the military be nonreliant on GPS means reduces one's target profile by preventing a single mode of attack (disabling satellites, which -- as previously discussed -- at least one potentially hostile state has the demonstrated ability to do) from impacting both military and civilian targets.

Re:In Case of Attack... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 6 years ago | (#18825791)

Look at that the other way around. When we invade a country, the first thing we do is take out all of their telecommunications infrastructure. Good thinking, folks.


In reality, this might be useful outside of conflict areas if something or someone takes out the GPS system. But in a country under attack, they can just initiate blackout measures for broadcast systems. Critical communications can be done with portable equipment (truck mounted cell towers, for example) which render them useless as navigation aides.


The worst part of this is that: if the enemy realizes you are using their infrastructure to target them, they can move it so as to throw you off. Park a portable TV transmitter in front of their military command center until the day of the attack and then move it in front of the US embassy.

Conelrad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18828113)

This was in fact a concern to the more paranoid in the 1950's or so, well, except with planes flying in to drop the bombs. There was in fact a system called Conelrad back then... In case it was suspected some Russians were trying to fly on in at night, the military or FCC or someone figured that they might navigate using radio stations as beacons. Conelrad was to tell all radio stations to go off the air. I have a 1959 ARRL handbook, and it has instructions for a Conelrad alarm that was to trip.. if whatever local station you tune the alarm to goes off the air, it turns off the "everything is fine" light, turns on a red light, starts buzzing, and cuts the wall current to the amateur radio the alarm is attached to. This was dropped a few years later, since any nuclear attack would have been via missiles rather than planes flying in and dropping nukes. But, in fact, if Conelrad had continued to this day, certainly cell phone towers *would* be rigged to drop off the ari.

Global positioning without satellites? (-1, Troll)

solevita (967690) | more than 6 years ago | (#18825595)

It just goes to show how reliant much of the Western world has become on GPS when we're now looking for more tech solutions to use in case GPS ever goes down. Whatever did people do before GPS?

It's times like this when I can't help but think that the smarter technology gets around us, the dumber we get. I think Plato said something to that effect once, but I can't find the exact quote.

Re:Global positioning without satellites? (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 6 years ago | (#18825707)

Hey. This is the military. It's their job to worry about what happens when something goes down, since if they're ever in a war, someone might take things down.

As for the rest of the Western world, I actually don't think most people do rely on GPS in any significant manner: most of their travel is to and from work and around town, in a place where they know the way. Modern civilian GPS systems, generally used for travel and trips and such, are as much used for their give-me-directions capabilities as they are for the you-are-here capabilities. If they stopped working, they'd be replaced by visits to Google Maps and such...

Re:Global positioning without satellites? (1)

defile (1059) | more than 6 years ago | (#18825823)

As for the rest of the Western world, I actually don't think most people do rely on GPS in any significant manner: most of their travel is to and from work and around town, in a place where they know the way. Modern civilian GPS systems, generally used for travel and trips and such, are as much used for their give-me-directions capabilities as they are for the you-are-here capabilities. If they stopped working, they'd be replaced by visits to Google Maps and such...

You know, maybe not even then.

My car's navigation system still works even when I drive into a deep full concrete parking garage with many sub-levels. It shows my car moving around inside a sea of gray and never seems to lose track of where I am. I'm shocked by how bad hand-held GPS receivers are in comparison when inside buildings or tunnels.

So what's my car doing different?

I suspect the navigation system is cheating by using a look at the odometer and a compass to maintain position. I would think the error margin is much higher on this, but even after considerable weaving around in parking lots or tunnels there's no discernible position adjustment made when I re-surface much later. In fact, if I have the status indicator figured out, it's flying this way most of the time and only sanity checking GPS once a day, if that.

So why use GPS at all? Because probably the sum of hundreds of imperceivable slips or one big perceivable slip would totally b0rk your position until recalibrated.

Re:Global positioning without satellites? (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 6 years ago | (#18825923)

I suspect the navigation system is cheating by using a look at the odometer and a compass to maintain position


It doesn't need the compass, the steering position alone will do to propagate from a given location and direction. But a car moving on a dry and relatively flat pavement inside a garage or tunnel is different from a military truck moving hundreds of miles off-road, not to mention ships or aircraft which aren't touching anything solid.


The military do have one solution, inertial navigation, which has been reported to be accurate to something like a hundred meters after travelling ten thousand kilometers. But inertial navigation instruments are relatively expensive and not as accurate as GPS, they are used in submarines, where GPS isn't available, and in strategic bombers an nuclear missiles, where any external guidance system is presumed to be destroyed in case of nuclear war. Cruise missiles use still another system, they are guided by radar readings compared to a map of the terrain stored in their memory.


I suppose this system being developed by Boeing follows the military habit of developing several redundant systems at the same time. That's how the US federal government distributes what they grab in taxes.

Re:Global positioning without satellites? (1)

wwwillem (253720) | more than 6 years ago | (#18826957)

When I worked for Philips Electronics in the 1980s, early 90s, they developed an in-car navigation system 100% based on odometry and compass. GPS didn't exist yet. The trick is that when a car makes a 90 degree turn to the right, for example, you know that it's doing that when there is a side street to the right. It is pretty unlikely that it will hammer the front of that office building :-). So, by combining the odometry/compass readings with mapping data, you're constantly able to re-calibrate your position.

I'm not sure if cars nowadays will use dual data-inputs (GPS plus some other navigation) for their navigation systems, because it would make it more expensive than simply relying on GPS. But the information is there to do it. The board computer probably even knows if the steering wheel is turned. You could fall back on that if you have no compass readings (I would guess a compass doesn't work well in a underground parking garage).

Global positioning without Gyroscopes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18829025)

"(I would guess a compass doesn't work well in a underground parking garage)."

*rolls eyes and shakes head*

Re:Global positioning without Gyroscopes? (1)

wwwillem (253720) | more than 6 years ago | (#18836753)

An empty parking garage probably would be fine, but ever seen what 1000 big steel motorblocks are doing to a little magnet .....

Re:Global positioning without satellites? (1)

swimmar132 (302744) | more than 6 years ago | (#18825835)

Lots of businesses depend on GPS -- it's absolutely critical. i.e. trucking companies, Walmart, airliners, etc.

Re:Global positioning without satellites? (2, Insightful)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#18826239)

Bullshit.
Planes flew before GPS and they somehow managed to arrive at their destinations.
Trucks deliver goods all the time.
Walmart employees might get lost going to the toilet, but thats not actually critical.

Re:Global positioning without satellites? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#18826371)

Yes, but GPS has done a lot for alleviating the "highways in the sky." Without GPS, planes are not able to fly directly to their destination: they are restricted to flying along pre-defined routes between navigational beacons. Which by definition means that planes must fly closer together, which reduces the total number of planes that the infrastructure can support, not to mention making your flights slightly longer.

I do not know how overseas flights were handled. I assume they use longer-wavelength beacons, taking advantage of the vast expanse of non-urbanized surface below them, Compass bearings, inertial and celestial navigation. All of which are either more complicated (for the plane) and/or less accurate than GPS, and one of which requires an additional crewmember.

Re:Global positioning without satellites? (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#18826429)

GPS != Navigation.

The navigator is still a vital member of any crew (sea or air)
The craft still needs to be guided around storms and populated centres and away from trouble.
He has to locate and guide the pilot to the nearest base or strip in an emergency.

GPS does not instantly solve these kind of problems.

Re:Global positioning without satellites? (1)

fuzz6y (240555) | more than 6 years ago | (#18825711)

Whatever did people do before GPS?

There are several answers. Sextants, LORAN, etc., but a big part of the answer is quite frankly "not know where the heck they were."

Re:Global positioning without satellites? (4, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 6 years ago | (#18825733)

Whatever did people do before GPS?


They got lost. Ships hit rocks and aircraft hit mountains. Google Earth has an interesting feature where you can overlay old maps on the current images. There you can see how inaccurate the old map makers were.


From the military point of view, GPS means less bombs hitting civilians. During WWII and the Korea war it was normal to drop hundreds of bombs, flattening several city block or even entire villages, just to hit one bridge. Today when a bomb hits anything other than the intended target it's considered a major fuck-up.


The smarter technology gets around us, the more efficient we get. We need to make sure we have a fallback system in case the new technology fails, of course, but we are still much better off with the smarter systems than with the old tech solutions.

Re:Global positioning without satellites? (1)

James McGuigan (852772) | more than 6 years ago | (#18826669)

Whatever did people do before GPS?

They got lost. Ships hit rocks and aircraft hit mountains.


Ships would keep an active watch and log, they would triangulate their position against known landmarks, they would cross-check the ships log (odometer) with their bearing and known currents and record their estimated position on a regular basis until their could re-establish a new fix. Even when out at sea, ships would use a sextant, a clock set to GMT and the time of sunset/sunrise to give a fix to their long/lat. In fact all major commercial transport ships have to sextant on board and an captian who knows how to use it.

When sailing close to land, your exact long/lat position is less important as your relative position to things you can see. Having local knowledge of places to be careful is just as important as having a map.

GPS while very useful, and a great timesaver, but has made many sailors a bit lazy. In fact GPS has been responsible for some collisions. Some maps will include data gathered before GPS, a small island or rocky outcrop may have its absolute position slightly off. In the old days, this wouldn't be a problem, the sailor would make a note to visually sight it and sail around it. The GPS sailor may just look at a straight line on the map that skims past the island based only on GPS, which not be quite as safe in real life.

Also when sailing between two major ports, most ships will take a straight GPS line between them to sail. Thus the likelyhood of "traffic" is alot greater than a sailor who decides to sail a few miles off course and will likely not get close to any other ship.

Re:Global positioning without satellites? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18826861)

During WWII and the Korea war it was normal to drop hundreds of bombs, flattening several city block or even entire villages, just to hit one bridge. Today when a bomb hits anything other than the intended target it's considered a major fuck-up.

You mean like the cluster bombs and MOABs being used today? Don't fool yourself. The US might use smart bombs to accurately hit some things considered important. But they use plenty of terror weapons and other unnecessary bullshit, like depleted uranium projectiles, in civilian areas that fuck up civilians for decades to come.

Re:Global positioning without satellites? (1)

BgJonson79 (129962) | more than 6 years ago | (#18832789)

MOABs are Cluster Bombs aren't used to take out bridges.

Cluster bombs are fantastic territory-denial weapons, and MOABs are great at clearing instant LZs.

Just not in cities.

Re:Global positioning without satellites? (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#18827659)

During WWII and the Korea war it was normal to drop hundreds of bombs, flattening several city block or even entire villages, just to hit one bridge.

It's truly amazing how bad navigational technology was during WWII. Bombers had trouble finding the right city. Early in the war, the Germans had trouble finding London. There were cases of aircraft landing in the wrong country. Looking up at the sky with a sextant was state of the art. Radio beams were tried by both sides, but were too easy to jam. Hits were either accidental or achieved by getting really close to the target.

Re:Global positioning without satellites? (2, Insightful)

Jonny do good (1002498) | more than 6 years ago | (#18825971)

It just goes to show how reliant much of the Western world has become on GPS when we're now looking for more tech solutions to use in case GPS ever goes down. Whatever did people do before GPS?

I actually use it several times a year when I go backpacking, but I never count on it working and always keep USGS Topo maps and/or US Forest Service maps and a compass with me so that if my GPS unit fails I don't get lost. The GPS is nice to have in the back country, but more for purposes of tracking my pace, movements, and elevation than for actual navigation. The maps available for the back country tend to be off and are missing a large amount of information on trails so all that I can use in these cases is a the lat/long or UTM info (UTM works much better with Quad maps, but with other maps latitude and longitude work just fine). I think that anyone that really relies on GPS for navigation is just short changing themselves, not know how to read a map and figure out relatively close to where you are is taking a risk.

I am also a private pilot and spend a lot of time on the water. I have never counted on GPS in these situations either, although GPS sure is handy when it comes to getting right back on top of a known fishing spot. When I got my pilot's license GPS was not an approved form of navigation so we learned dead reconing skills and how to read a chart for VFR rules (who knows what they are teching new pilots these days, I haven't flown in a long time and haven't kept myself current). I never got my IFR license so didn't spend too much time with IFR tools like Loran but they can also be quite accurate. I know I could always find an AM radio station with the direction finder (I used it to listen to talk radio more then navigation, but it was fun to know where the stations tower was located). There are plenty of ways to navigate without GPS, most of them just require finding the intersection of two lines and having an idea of where you are in the first place.

Re:Global positioning without satellites? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18828049)

It's good to see this going on.

GPS may not be around in times of war.
The Asian countries have ground based missiles that can blow up anything orbiting the earth.
This was just demonstrated a week or two weeks ago when they blew up a weather satellite.

An alternative navigation system needs to be up and running.

Global positionning without GPS, heh? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18825597)

Before the patent wars begin, there's prior art out here: I think it is called a "map" or something.

robust mess? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18825637)

Robust navigation? From a jumble of tv/mobile signals? I don't think so. For absolute position VOR+DME is pretty good and ILS/MLS around terminal areas. Relative collision avoidance is handled by S-mode transponders and TCAS.

Use existing systems. ATC could gather all the TCAS negotiation information via the s-mode datalinks and use that to make a more accurate picture of the traffic than the survaillance radar alone can provide and broadcast that back to the planes. All that the planes really need anyway is their relative position to other planes more accurately. Absolute geographic position is accurate enough with the existing systems for purpose of terminal procedures and terrain avoidance.

Then again I think we should develop the reliability of GPS satellite constellation and adding Galileo to that will make it very robust with dual receivers and multiple antennas on the planes. To make ADS work will need dependable GPS type vector information anyway...

Re:robust mess? (1)

bananaendian (928499) | more than 6 years ago | (#18825705)

Robust navigation? From a jumble of tv/mobile signals? I don't think so. For absolute position VOR+DME is pretty good and ILS/MLS around terminal areas. Relative collision avoidance is handled by S-mode transponders and TCAS.

Use existing systems. ATC could gather all the TCAS negotiation information via the s-mode datalinks and use that to make a more accurate picture of the traffic than the survaillance radar alone can provide and broadcast that back to the planes. All that the planes really need anyway is their relative position to other planes more accurately. Absolute geographic position is accurate enough with the existing systems for purpose of terminal procedures and terrain avoidance.

Then again I think we should develop the reliability of GPS satellite constellation and adding Galileo to that will make it very robust with dual receivers and multiple antennas on the planes. To make ADS work will need dependable GPS type vector information anyway...

PS: I'm of course talking about civil aviation needs here. The military might have other requirements and can't rely on civil aviation navigation systems. I suggest they use flying platforms to form a robust location signal beacon network. Some more advanced armies already have such systems (cough Finland cough)...

Re:robust mess? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#18827363)

ATC could gather all the TCAS negotiation information via the s-mode datalinks and use that to make a more accurate picture of the traffic than the survaillance radar alone can provide and

Thats effectively what ADSB does. Works a treat in Australia

broadcast that back to the planes.

Why? TCAS already got that information the first time around. Why create a dependency on ground hardware when you don't need it?

Sounds like LORAN to me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18825647)

This is great, yesterdays technology for tomorrow. This is nothing more than an updated varient of LORAN.

Re:Sounds like LORAN to me. (1)

bananaendian (928499) | more than 6 years ago | (#18825671)

Loran is a low frequency hyberbolic positioning system used for LRN (long range navigation). I think these people are looking for much more precision from their system atleast equal to NAVSTAR GPS.

LORAN (4, Informative)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 6 years ago | (#18825663)

We've had http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LORAN [wikipedia.org] since WWII. It works fairly well for ships and airplanes, I'm sure it will be quite enough to guide airplanes to nearest aerodrome in case of aliens knocking off GPS satellites.

Re:LORAN (1, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#18828363)

If the pilot is even slightly competent he can fly and find his airport and LAND without GPS,LORAN, or other navigation system. A compass or even dead reckoning works quite well and last I knew you had to learn it.

But then we had a story a couple moths ago how military pilots could not fly because their GPS's failed.

If you cant fly with your entire instrument cluster dead, then you have no business being in the cockpit of an aircraft.

Re:LORAN (1)

Ralgha (666887) | more than 6 years ago | (#18833117)

Go jump in an airplane and find your way to an airport, without crashing, using no instruments and having an overcast cloud layer at 200 feet with the tops at 20k. When you accomplish that, you can come back here and repeat your statement. You'll die first though.

Re:LORAN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18834713)

No problem. Had to do it for my license. Back in the late 90's. you were not allowed to look out the windshield (had goggles that blocked your vision. The instructor had black tape over all the instruments except for the VFR and the compass.

Obviousally you don't have a pilots license and do not know what you are talking about.

Lumpy is spot on.

Re:LORAN (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#18834865)

Since you do not know how to fly an airplane, I'll enlighten you.

to get your Advanced Instrument rating you have to do just that. and a 200 foot ceiling is really easy to deal with. First you either pick a different airport that does not have the visibility problem,(typically low ceiling is localized within a 50 mile radius) You also can find where you are easily by listening to the beacons on your portable and watching your HSI needle (sandel makes a nice one). I can tell you without looking out that window if I am lined up on that runway by only the GPS and the HSI needle.

I can with a compass and a circle of the city tell you pretty much where the airport is and even line up on the main runway after watching the HSI needle at my headings.

If current pilots CANT do this, then I dont think I want to get back in the left seat and in the air again. It blows my mind if current pilots are not taught these basics. Also any pilot that does not own a portable GPS and keeps it in his flight bag needs to be smacked in the head.

Re:LORAN (1)

Ralgha (666887) | more than 6 years ago | (#18857995)

I don't know how to fly an airplane huh? I captain a Brasilia for a large regional airline. Try again. There is no such thing as an "Advanced Instrument Rating", there is only an "Instrument Rating", unless you're referring to the ATP, which replaces the instrument rating, and is actually easier to get. If you are in the clouds, and you lose all your instruments, you are dead. It's that simple. If you are not in the clouds, and you have the fuel to make it somewhere that does not have low ceilings, then you should be fine. Whether you have a GPS or not. I don't own a portable GPS, let alone keep it in my flight bag. My airplane has two VOR receivers, six channels to receive DME on, GPS, and VPU. If all of that fails, I can use the radar to make sure I don't hit anything, wait, you do know how to do that don't you? After all, you're the uber pilot. You should be able to navigate with nothing but a weather radar.

Re:LORAN (1)

Ralgha (666887) | more than 6 years ago | (#18858183)

Forgot to add, I taught instrument ratings for a few years, and it's not required anywhere to navigate without any instruments. Escape methods are good to know, and all my students learned them, but it's not required knowledge. If you're in the clouds and you lose all navigation capability (handheld is cheating, you didn't say that was available in your first post), then you're dead unless you get really lucky.

If you happen to be somewhere flat, like the midwest, you might be able to make that luck by knowing where better weather lies, and going in that direction, but in the west, with the mountains and extensive cloud cover, that is not likely to be an option, though it should be checked out before flight.

Re:LORAN (1)

Ralgha (666887) | more than 6 years ago | (#18833133)

While LORAN is good (I've used it), it requres a specific receiver, which most airplanes do not have, thus rendering it useless for all but the few that have the necessary equipment.

The solution is right in your glovebox... (0, Redundant)

anandamide (86527) | more than 6 years ago | (#18825701)

...it's called a map.

Re:The solution is right in your glovebox... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18825779)

Sorry, no room for maps. I hide my Tom-Tom in there.

Blackbird (1)

Eternauta3k (680157) | more than 6 years ago | (#18825745)

Well, the blackbird used astral navigation.

Re:Blackbird (2, Informative)

calidoscope (312571) | more than 6 years ago | (#18826433)

Well, the blackbird used astral navigation.


To be precise, the Blackbird used an astro-inertial navigation system originally developed for the Skybolt missile. This used the position of the sun or other selected stars to refine the position estimates given by the inertial nav system. A related guidance system is used in the Trident II missile.

Re:Blackbird (1)

Eternauta3k (680157) | more than 6 years ago | (#18826941)

To be precise, the Blackbird used an astro-inertial navigation system originally developed for the Skybolt missile. This used the position of the sun or other selected stars to refine the position estimates given by the inertial nav system. A related guidance system is used in the Trident II missile.
Looks like we've got a G-man here... :)

Re:Blackbird (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18826951)

Yeah. Would you chose a neurosurgeon who pokes around people's brains in his spare time ? I wouldn't. Yeah. Would you CHOOSE a neurosurgeon who pokes around people's brains in his spare time ? I wouldn't. there i fixed it for ya.

The first thing in a war (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18825753)

Turn off all the radio transmitters. Turn off the lights. Don't give the enemy anything to aim at. Of course, the trouble is that, unlike the second world war, it's not going to be so easy to turn off all the transmitters. Just look at all the mobile devices out there radiating a signal. Even if you turn off all the telephone cells, all the cell phones will be out there looking for a pilot signal. Then there are all the cordless phones ...

Re:The first thing in a war (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#18826427)

Well you text all the mobiles to let them know what's going on and that they'd better turn off your phones. No need for op-sec on the enemy's movement unless you're trying to keep your own intelligence channels secret. But then you wouldn't turn anything off at all.

Cordless phones will disappear when you cut the power.

I think we should start drilling for this right now. We should have periodic "astronomy days" where we just turn off all exterior lighting, and look at celestial events. Maybe just a couple hours a few nights a year, so urbanites can experience meteor showers and comets, and see the milky way once in their lives.

Conelrad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18828183)

Conelrad in the 1950s essentially did this with radios. The radio stations (AM I suppose, I don't know if there were any commercial FM stations yet) were supposed to go off the air in case of a Conelrad alert. People were supposed to shut off lights in case of a suspected attack, so the military or FCC or someone figured the aircraft may navigate using radio stations as beacons. This 1959 ARRL handbook I have has a Conelrad circuit people were supposed to add onto ham radios. It'd get tuned to a local radio station. In case the station goes off the air, it'd turn off an "everything's fine" light, turn on a red light, start buzzing and cut the AC power to the radio. Of course, with nuclear missiles flying planes in to drop nukes would be rather silly, so this was dropped in the early 1960s. But, if they'd decided to keep it, certainly cell sites would now be signalled to shut down. If cell phones do transmit with absence of a cell signal, I'm sure they'd be designed to never do it if Conelrad was still around.

Shouldn't rely on power around you (1)

GIL_Dude (850471) | more than 6 years ago | (#18825783)

How about not relying on things around you having power? For example, wouldn't the "enemy" want to take out your power grid? Wouldn't that then significantly change the picture from the signals around you? Heck, even WE could do that to ourselves if we needed to divert power to some military purpose and might have to turn off some civilian transmitters.

We recently saw some tech news (damn; can't remember where now) where two satellites in close tandem were making incredibly detailed gravity maps of the world and had shown how "sea level" actually varies by over 30 feet due to the gravity variance. Shouldn't we base a system on something like that (call it a Sci-Fi name to sell it: Gravimetric Locator Service - when it glitches its GLS for Get Lost System). Anyway, basing it on the gravity field would result in something that could not be changed over months during some type of war or anything. Just a thought.

wow outstanding (1)

heptapod (243146) | more than 6 years ago | (#18825803)

And all this time I thought one only required a sextant and a way of reliably telling time.

ping (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18825853)

Use ping with several servers (you've got to know the physical location of the servers you're pinging) and triangulate the signal (well, OK, take more than 3 servers ;)

Last I checked the Internet infrastructure was still obeying the law of physics and you still weren't getting a ping lower than 90 ms between, say, New York and Paris (as in Paris, capital of France).

It's not that precise, but it's not that bad either ;)

Otherwise I'm fine with GPS, thanks.

Manual navigation sucks (2, Interesting)

schwillis (1073082) | more than 6 years ago | (#18825985)

I always imagined that the GPS network must be very vulnerable to attack, any nation as industrialized as say china could probabbly fill orbit with enough shrapnel bombs to destroy the bulk of the satellites around the planet if they put the resources into it. what did people do before GPS? Well theirs a few things, but most of them don't fit in your pocket. land navigation is extreamly difficult, I spent a good part of my child hood/early teens practiceing land navigation, and I wouldn't ever want to rely on it for anything that requires great precision or speed. Also celestial navigation relies on a unubstructed horizon and clear weather obviously. from the sounds of this system it seems fairly vulnerable to tampering and interference. I wonder if you could use sound freqencys transmitted through the earth to triangulate a position.

Re:Manual navigation sucks (1)

DDLKermit007 (911046) | more than 6 years ago | (#18827387)

Sure they could put shrapnel up there, but they'd screw themselves over. Destroying satellites is the absolutely last thing you wanna do. One satellite destroyed is one more object in space (likely multiple pieces) to worry about. Not to mention small pieces of shrapnel can destroy anything, and the US can't even track any debris thats smaller than a baseball. It's a mutually assured destruction kind of thing. You leave our stuff alone, or it'll invariably damage/destroy something else of yours in the 20 some years it takes to deorbit, and burn up in the atmosphere.

Re:Manual navigation sucks (1)

MurphyZero (717692) | more than 6 years ago | (#18827603)

Destroying satellites is the last thing you want to do, IF you depend on satellites. A country with little need for permanent presence in space (North Korea maybe?) could easily use the threat of knocking out a satellite. The problem is that a country knocking out a US (or other country's) satellite could easily cause damage to third party nations' satellites. Is it worth having multiple countries mad at you?

Re:Manual navigation sucks (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#18827403)

Also celestial navigation relies on a unubstructed horizon and clear weather obviously

But I wonder what you could accomplish today with a PDA equipped with a camera and an accurate clock? If it could resolve stars and (say) the Moon and/or Venus and the horizon in one or two images could it work out your location on the ground?

Might be hard in the city but if you have some kind of disaster where city lights are lost celestial navigation might become possible again.

Re:Manual navigation sucks (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#18829861)

I always imagined that the GPS network must be very vulnerable to attack,

Many slashdot readers imagine all manner of ludicrous things. Sometimes the even remember them when they sober up or the high wears off.

Stars (2, Funny)

tsa (15680) | more than 6 years ago | (#18826221)

I read somewhere that you can use the stars as well for global positioning at night. That's an interesting and novel idea. Maybe they should do some more research on that.

Re:Stars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18827245)

I read somewhere that you can use the stars as well for global positioning at night. That's an interesting and novel idea. Maybe they should do some more research on that.

I'd love to, but it's cloudy again.

Do you Guys ever do any competitive research ??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18826267)

Cellphone positionning does exists (and quite frankly I am tired of getting the same info over and over about Skyhook Wireless, which only covers Wifi positionning on laptop and not cell towers positionning and by the way has a very very high cost of functionning : ie paying a lot for wardrivers!). I would like to let you know about NAVIZON (http://www.navizon.com/ [navizon.com]) which does cell phones and wifi positionning systems since 2005 ! (Laptop and mobile devices) It is peer produced data and is available on symbian, windows mobile, Palm Treo, PC, and Blackberry!!. Oh I forgot to mention that it works internationnally their technology is not only for CDMA but GSM phones and of course any PC and mac.

Hardly global. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18826411)

There are huge areas of Canada not covered by any cell or television signals. LORAN would be far more useful, though still not global.

The 737 BBJ does something similar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18826569)

This is really fascinating. I'm currently going through a course at Alteon to learn about the Boeing Business Jet, based on a 737. What really interested me during the avionics portion was how the Flight Management Computer calculated its present position based on multiple inputs, including GPS.

The way it worked was it took position data entered in by the pilot, position data from the Inertial Reference Units, and GPS. In addition, the FMC would tune into 3 VOR stations, and use the Distance Measurement Equipment ranges for those 3 nearby stations to triangulate its present position. The FMC would then caculate an average based on those 4, and use it for route calculations.

A map and a compass (1)

The Relentless (901624) | more than 6 years ago | (#18826697)

When I was 12, the Boy Scouts taught me to triangulate my position with a map and a compass. Oh, and something to draw the lines with.

who was building galileo again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18826969)

> "they don't want to rely on upcoming GPS enhancers or replacements from France, China, and Russia"

okay, i take issue with this one. By "Russia" they are talking abount GLONASS. and "China" they mean COMPASS.

Surely the dozens of EU countries working on GALILEO deserve just as equal a mention as France.

i don't need gps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18827695)

I just use my sextant [wikipedia.org]

Already done by Hakan Lans, GPC Sweden (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18830743)

I understand that very similar work has done by Hakan Lans in Sweden, however it was so good they would not grant him a patent ? Anyone know about this?

French positioning system? (2, Informative)

akhbit (1091615) | more than 6 years ago | (#18830983)

Oh come now, You must be referring to Galileo system that is being buid for the EU and ESA (European Space Agency) by European Satellite Navigation Industries. So it's basicly european system not French. Get your facts straight.


More on subject:
The EU site for the Galileo project http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/energy_transport/galileo/i ndex_en.htm/ [europa.eu]
The wikipedia site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_positioning_s ystem/ [wikipedia.org]
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

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>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...