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Russian GPS Alternative Near Completion

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the better-late-than-never dept.

Government 177

Russia has successfully launched another round of GLONASS satellites bringing the grand total to 18 of the navigational units online. "The GPS competitor -- first begun in the Soviet era and only recently revived after years of post-collapse neglect -- is now theoretically capable of providing coverage to the entire Russian territory, with First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov claiming that the first compatible consumer devices will be available in the middle of next year. By 2010 Russia plans to open the system up to outside nations as well, contributing to an eventual three- or even four-system global market"

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177 comments

Required, Sorry (3, Funny)

PktLoss (647983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21823842)

In Soviet Russia, Satelite tracks you!

Re:Required, Sorry (1)

hsdpa (1049926) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824412)

Mod parent up ! :-) Hey.. Why should we need GPS, WAAS, EGNOS, Galileo Positioning System *AND* GLOSNASS ? Positioning systems are great, but why create many when you can collaborate and ... do something yet better together?

Re:Required, Sorry (4, Interesting)

ch0knuti (994541) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824502)

Because these systems are primarily used by military. With the total dependability that modern military systems place on them no nation in their right mind would want an outside force controlling them.

Re:Required, Sorry (4, Informative)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824938)

yeah, what ^^ he ^^ said.

The USA is rolling out their next gen GPS, - M-Code. It gives the US the ability to control accuracy on a 'per nation' basis. (unlike the old way under C/A code where inserted inaccuracy it was regional), or the current P-code (where i believe it is all or nothing - its just whether you have the codes or not.)

These days its just* a matter of adding another receiver card. As long as your system can combine the multiple nav sources (say through Kalman filtering) the more the better. - losing one source doesn't affect you too much.

* in this game 'just' costs about $50K per unit.

So... (3, Insightful)

milsoRgen (1016505) | more than 6 years ago | (#21823850)

...we're going to have more choice in satellite positioning systems then we do with satellite radio?

Re:So... (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21824118)

Since you're compAring things, the word you want is THAN. "Then" is for consEquences. IF something, THEN something else. 4 is greater THAN 3.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21824326)

The fix:
If we're going to have more choice in satellite positioning systems, then we do with satellite radio?

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21824380)

Actually, no he just meant that we're going to have a choice of GPS systems, followed chronologically by a choice in satellite radio systems. I don't know why he thinks that either, he's probably an idiot.

Re:So... (0, Offtopic)

fbjon (692006) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824764)

To summarize:


IF .. THEN
MORE .. THAN


Definitive, on-topic example: IF this satellite system works well, THEN there will be MORE choice THAN before.

I found this interesting (-1, Troll)

Budgieton (1208128) | more than 6 years ago | (#21823852)

There was an article I read a few months back, which points to various alternatives to GPS [dwarfurl.com] . A very interesting read IMO. GPS isn't the be all and end all.

Re:I found this interesting (3, Informative)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 6 years ago | (#21823970)

It's a myminitcity link! Mod down!

So far, I've counted 3 myminicity accounts spamming slashdot:
spx2.myminicity.com
fohootville.myminicity.com
budgieton.myminicity.com

Motion Twin is the company that makes the product, email them and complain about the account here:
contact@motion-twin.com

Also, if slashdot would follow redirects on links and display the final destination domain after the link, that would be great.

Re:I found this interesting (1)

yincrash (854885) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824232)

I made him a slashdot foe. (I'm off topic but so is parent and GP?)

Re:I found this interesting (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824288)

Its normally AC so that won't work

Re:I found this interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21824018)

TROLL ALERT! Parent is a spam-link - one of those new myminicity things that seem to show up a lot on slashdot recently.

Re:I found this interesting (1)

Arcturax (454188) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824340)

Between this and Roland, is any link still safe?

A man with one clock... (2, Funny)

Bookwyrm (3535) | more than 6 years ago | (#21823860)

What was the saying? "A man with one clock always knows what time it is -- a man with two clocks is never sure"?

I suppose if every one of these systems provides a precise enough location, for most purposes it won't matter if they all conflict with one another by a meter or so.

No, it's not used for targeting.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21824158)

If you were in a sensor-to-shooter situation (like NEC suggests) the delta would, of course, be a serious pain in the proverbial but I can't quite see a NEC linkup between the US and Russia :-).

However, the nice thing is that the Russian network acts as a backup - the moment this is stable it voids the whole quality degrading tactic the US has been using. Nothing wrong with a bit of redundancu IMHO.

Re:No, it's not used for targeting.. (3, Interesting)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824274)

Selective Availability hasn't been used since the Clinton administration. Sure, they can degrade the signal in certain areas, but it's rarely done.

Re:No, it's not used for targeting.. (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824774)

i always loved the errors.. we would be out on the boat.. GPS mounted on the dash (4-5 ft above the water line) and it would tell me i was any where from 500 ft + - sea level.. kinda fun really

Re:No, it's not used for targeting.. (2, Informative)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824808)

SA caused that, but also, you'll get that with only 3 satellites over the horizon. It takes 3 satellites to determine your position, and 4 satellites to do altitude.

Re:No, it's not used for targeting.. (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21825214)

oh this had to be SA cause we would have 6-8 sats locked in on average ..

Re:No, it's not used for targeting.. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21824498)

US turned off the Selective Availability random errors permanently in 2000, after having done so provisionally in the 1990s. Now the FAA and everyone else relies on the full accuracy, so even though the US could turn SA back on at any time, they have a strong domestic disincentive to do so. Now the military is interested in local jamming of GPS rather than introducing errors globally.

Re:A man with one clock... (5, Informative)

willgps (939538) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824332)

Firstly, with regular GPS you already have more than one clock - one on your receiver, and one on each of the satellites. You can directly solve for the receiver clock bias by taking measurements to an extra satellite, hence the need to track 4 satellites for a three-dimensional position fix because of the four unknowns ( X, Y, Z, and time.)

Secondly, while GPS and GLONASS use different terrestrial reference frames, there exists a well defined transform between the WGS-84 used by GPS and the PZ-90 used in GLONASS.

Finally, in a combined GPS/GLONASS receiver it is not optimal to calculate a separate position solution for each constellation. If you track a few more satellites, you can solve directly for the clock offset between the two navigation systems and treat the range measurements as if they were all from one giant 60 satellite constellation. This actually gives you much better satellite geometry, and is often more accurate than any single navigation system on its own.

There is much research being done on the effects of combined constellations with GPS,GLONASS, Galileo and the Chinese Compass system.

Re:A man with one clock... (5, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824620)

My own experiments with GPS would bear this out.

When I was doing more of this stuff, clients would sometimes take several GPS points, and find to their delite that nearly always the three points were much closer than the supposed precision of plain old non-differential GPS. As a result, they began to assume the system had more precision than rated.

Intrigued by this I set up a fixed station that tracked all the fixes coming out of the receiver over several hour period. What I found is that sequential readings tended to be strongly correlated to their immediate predecessors but weakly correlated to fixes taken much earlier. Essentially the receiver would report all the points as being in a smallish bucket a couple of meters wide, but every fifteen or twenty minutes it would pick up the bucket and put it a different place five or even ten meters away. Then there'd be a run for fifteen minutes or so at the new "bucket position", after which the bucket would move once again.

The way I interpret this is that the various sources of error change as a satellite's position changes. Perhaps a mountain range gives a strong reflection in one position or not another, or perhaps a new satellite rises (or an old one sets), leading to a whole new set of data.

So, it stands to reason that having more than twice the number of satellites means that the various random sources of error would tend to be averaged out more, provided any difference between the old and new system could be accounted for systematically.

Re:A man with one clock... (1)

C. Alan (623148) | more than 6 years ago | (#21825134)

Back when we were purchasing land surveying grade recievers for our company, the sales man explained to us that 10-15 feet was the best that was avalible due to the signal getting distorted by passing through the atmosphere. This is why RTK or DGPS is used in land surveying with multiple recievers.

GLONASS and GPS work well together (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824786)

Basically you need one satellite to resolve each variable in the solution. Thus if you hook up GPS and GLONASS it costs you one saltellite. THus, adding 5 GLONASS satellites to the solution is the same as more or less equivalent to adding 4 GPS satellites. There are many top-end GPS receivers that do this to great effect.

2mm, China's COMPASS and more on GLONASS (4, Insightful)

Lord Satri (609291) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824534)

I suppose if every one of these systems provides a precise enough location, for most purposes it won't matter if they all conflict with one another by a meter or so.
For your curiosity, one can use GPS signal to get a precision of 2mm. No this isn't an error or bullshit (and it is not DGPS [wikipedia.org] ), it's "phase resolution". In short, you use the GPS signal's phase from multiple GPS satellites to get a 2mm spatial resolution. Whether Selective Availability is on or not doesn't matter, but you can do this only in post-processing mode however, not real-time (afaik). A friend was doing his PhD on this. There are a few great applications, such as doing GPS phase-resolution for bridges, thus knowing by how much they move due to traffic, temperature, lateral wind, etc. The funny thing is we don't even know the position of the satellite at such a precision, but it does not matter, we're using the phase of multiple satellites here, not the content of the signal. (I'm not a professional of GPS phase resolution myself, anyone with more knowledge is welcomed to correct me, I'll appreciate :-)

A little more related to GLONASS, there's COMPASS, the global positioning system of China. It's first satellite was successfully launched last February [computing.co.uk] .

Here I provided (shameless but informative plug) news on Europe's Galileo, which somehow solved their important funding problems [slashgeo.org] . As for GLONASS, Putin himself clearly stated he wants GLONASS back to full speed [blogspot.com] .

Anyone avid of GPS-related news is welcomed here [slashgeo.org] (this is the GPS topic on Slashgeo, yeah, a plug, but hey, it's right on topic no? And there's no ads whatsoever ;-). Happy holiday time.

Re:2mm, China's COMPASS and more on GLONASS (3, Informative)

C. Alan (623148) | more than 6 years ago | (#21825198)

You can already do this with the US based GPS system using OPUS. Forgive my bad html, but here is the link:

http://www.ngs.noaa.gov/OPUS/ [noaa.gov]

You have to set up your reciever to log satilite observations over at least 2 hours, and take a reading at least every 5 minutes. Opus uses precises satilite orbital information to post process point information. The accuracy of your results depend upon how long you run your observations, and how many observations you log. I typicall run mine over 4 hours, and get an accuracy of around 4mm horizontal. Opus is a great tool when you need to tie your land survey to WGS84 coordinates, or State plane coordinates.

Selling Points of Multiple GPS's? (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21823874)

"You should switch from the free US GPS to our free GPS, so that, you won't be relying on their free GPS after the nuclear war."

Re:Selling Points of Multiple GPS's? (1)

lbmouse (473316) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824006)

From the policy of freedom of information of Glasnost to the policy of free GPS of Glonass.

Re:Selling Points of Multiple GPS's? (1)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824090)

Looking at that I keep wanting to read it as GlaDOS. My poor weighted companion cube.

Re:Selling Points of Multiple GPS's? (1)

rahvin112 (446269) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824510)

Glonass and Galileo won't be free. Each plan to charge for each reciever. This is the reason neither system will obtain any kind of market share once NASA gets GPS mark II up and running. The US system will always be free, the EU and Russian system will cost $$ and offer no serious benefit over the enhanced GPS that is going to be deployed over the next few years.

Re:Selling Points of Multiple GPS's? (1)

harrkev (623093) | more than 6 years ago | (#21825074)

So, why develop Glonass and Galileo? I can see it as a way to get your own that the US doesn't control, and as a way to have a little nationalistic pride. But, if you charge for something that somebody else gives away for free, you are doomed to fail unless you offer something a LOT better. Since regular US GPS is plenty good enough for driving directions & the like, I do not see a huge market for the pay services.

Now, if these competing systems are being developed for their respecitve militaries, I can understand that. But, why not give it away to the civillians for free? Obviously the monetary income will not be that great (maybe almost nothing). Also, giving it away for free will foster a lot of good will, as well as a "let's show the Americans up" type of mentality. So, in the end, people in Europe are more likely to use GPS over Galileo just because of cost.

Re:Selling Points of Multiple GPS's? (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#21825146)

um last time I checked, it costs money for a GPS receiver.

now are you talking about paying for a receiver, or paying for access like Satellite radio?

Re:Selling Points of Multiple GPS's? (2, Informative)

Le Jimmeh (1086671) | more than 6 years ago | (#21825340)

GPS costs for each receiver, no different than GLONASS and Galileo. The difference is Galileo offers something like 4 different services. One of them is free service which is about the same accuracy as GPS today. The paid-for services include higher accuracy (1m IIRC) and more secure channels (or something along those lines). Secondly, the main reason Galileo is being developed, IMO, is due to the fact that the American GPS has selective availability (note: this was disabled but can, supposedly, be re-enabled) and we don't want to be left in the dark if the USA goes to war with yet another country and decides to deny access to anyone but the military.

Re:Selling Points of Multiple GPS's? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21824520)

I think the true selling point is that with many (more than one) system. You aren't reliant on any one provider for a signal. I am sure there will be (if not already) receivers that will be capable of using both systems (and Galileo when it gets up and running). However, after the nuclear war, knowing your position to a few meters accuracy is probably going to be the least of your concerns.

Poor research by /. No suprises then. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21824054)

Ok, GLONASS is not very accurate because it is far from completion - you need ground based infrastructure as well as decent satellites. This system will be good enough for Russian military as they are not too bothered about 10m spread for their multi-megaton nukes, but if you drive a car with this thing then such a low accuracy will matter a lot.

Also GPS is pretty well damn established in terms of electronics and its price - there is no way GLONASS will take any significant market share anywhere in the world apart from Russia where, as it often happens there, legislation will be used to ensure it is GLONASS on sale rather than GPS. But given level of corruption there even this won't work well.

So move along, nothing to see here, and definately not something worth reporting.

Re:Poor research by /. No suprises then. (4, Informative)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824186)

navstar spread is, depending on the time of day, 5-15m so glonass is neither better nor worse (and possibly better for the north europe because the receiver won't have to "squint" that much so the signal won't be covered by large buildings and trees).

by ground based infrastructure you mean egnos/waas? only the most modern gps receivers support differential gps and most times it doesn't work anyway.

it is actually better to have glonass online at last - it makes dual mode navstar/glonass receivers a reality. such dual mode receivers would probably be much more exact.

Re:Poor research by /. No suprises then. (2, Interesting)

Neil Jansen (955182) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824450)

by ground based infrastructure you mean egnos/waas? only the most modern gps receivers support differential gps ...
Sounds kind of troll-ish, but I'll bite... Wouldn't want your misinformation to be spread around Slashdot.

If by 'only the most modern', you mean 'the majority of the GPS receivers made in the last 10 years', then yes. WAAS wasn't around back in the days of GPS infancy, but most new receivers have it, and yes

... and most times it doesn't work anyway
Now that's just wrong. The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) designed WAAS to allow aircraft to shoot approaches into airports. I help design aircraft GPS systems for a living, so I can tell you a thing or two about GPS/WAAS integrity. I'd trust my life to it, as do the pilots that use it daily. There are many systems in place to ensure that the position given is accurate (ionospheric correction, signal degradation parameters, step detection, etc), and other systems that ensure that all the satellite signals are doing what they're supposed to (RAIM, FDE, etc). Please read up on WAAS when you get a chance, you'd be surprised how well it works.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wide_Area_Augmentation_System [wikipedia.org]

Re:Poor research by /. No suprises then. (2, Interesting)

topham (32406) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824562)

WAAS does not work particularly well on the ground. Most people seem to care about this, more so than whether it works well for it's intended use. Aircraft navigation on approach.

The biggest issue with WAAS being that those of us in the central area of North America may have both satellites very near the horizon. If you are on either coast one satellite is high enough above the horizon to be clear line of sight past most ground obstacles. exceptions being large nearby buildings, or mountains.

Of course, I don't see much difference in usage on the ground with, or without waas. Ground based clutter causes other error types anyway and you have to use GPS as an aid, not as a solution to a non-existent problem. It works and it works damn well, but it won't auto-navigate your car through traffic.

Re:Poor research by /. No suprises then. (1)

Neil Jansen (955182) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824708)

he biggest issue with WAAS being that those of us in the central area of North America may have both satellites very near the horizon. If you are on either coast one satellite is high enough above the horizon to be clear line of sight past most ground obstacles. exceptions being large nearby buildings, or mountains.
There's not one area of the contiguous United States that can't see at least one WAAS GEO. I can prove this pretty easily.. Read through the WAAS Performance Analysis report for October 2007 [faa.gov] and see the graphs for yourself. Also the WAAS GEO footprint [faa.gov] page is pretty helpful too.

Re:Poor research by /. No suprises then. (2, Interesting)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824640)

the most widespread consumer gps chipset is sirf star II. it doesn't support dgps.
only the latest generation of consumer gps chipsets (sirf star III and alike) does support it. and it doesn't work well on the ground so pilots and navy are pretty much only ones who can use it.

you might not believe it, but either ones are among a minority of gps users.

Re:Poor research by /. No suprises then. (3, Interesting)

Neil Jansen (955182) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824810)

the most widespread consumer gps chipset is sirf star II. it doesn't support dgps. only the latest generation of consumer gps chipsets (sirf star III and alike) does support it. and it doesn't work well on the ground so pilots and navy are pretty much only ones who can use it.
Sure, I'll give you that, as long as we're clear that the the problem isn't the WAAS system itself. Whether or not consumer-grade receivers ever implement a fully-compliant receiver is anyone's guess... 2-3 meter accuracy is possible if they ever get around to it.

Re:Poor research by /. No suprises then. (1)

joggle (594025) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824772)

Yes, the GLONASS satellites are in orbit at about a 65 degree inclination vs. 55 degrees for GPS, so you should see an improvement in visibility. It should help for dual-mode receivers, but they will certainly cost more than normal civilian GPS receivers since they will need a more expensive FDMA radio receiver to tune in multiple frequencies and will need additional electronics to decode GPS and GLONASS. It would consume batteries more quickly too of course due to the extra workload. The main benefit in the accuracy of your position result would be due to having more satellites visible than anything. If you are unable to directly see many satellites because you are in an urban corridor I wouldn't expect to see a drastic increase in accuracy since there would still be too much multipath.

Re:Poor research by /. No suprises then. (2, Informative)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 6 years ago | (#21825216)

"This system will be good enough for Russian military"
ie they can find a city like Grozny, Chechnya.
But when it came to a satellite phone kill (Chechen leader Dzokhar Dudayev), they had to ask the NSA for help.

2nd srcing (1, Insightful)

rice_burners_suck (243660) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824078)

This is as important as so-called "second sourcing", which promises that if one system goes down, others will still be available.

Re:2nd srcing (1)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824112)

Think it could better be classified as NIHS rearing its ugly head.

GLONASS?!?!?! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21824092)

OK, that's just asking for some obscene corruption of the name, now isn't it?

better article (4, Informative)

Takichi (1053302) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824096)

The linked article in the summary doesn't have much more info, but here's a good one. [itar-tass.com]

They say it can theoretically cover all of Russia because only 13 of the 18 are operational. Here's an interesting quote from the article:

"The main point is to avoid the 1997 situation, when 24 sputniks were on the orbit, but only the military were making use of the system. However, it is now feared that a similar situation is apt to re-occur, since there are some problems with the development of navigation equipment for the consumers at large, although the constructor-general is trying to cope with them"

satellite life? (1)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824438)

One thing that would bug me about depending on this system, if I were Russian, is that the Russians are notoriously inept at ensuring long life for their satellites. They tend to just launch a lot of them and accept a short lifespan as they wig out. The US, by contrast, tends to go for gold-plated satellites that live a very long time, and launch far fewer. Is the Russian "shotgun" scheme going to work out for a navigation satellite system? I don't know, but it's a question I'd be asking myself before switching from GPS to Glonass.

I mean, in addition to asking myself whether some cut of the profits from Glonass are going to be spent ensuring that Vladimir Putin stays Supreme Leader for Life.

Actual article about GPS and it's rivels (4, Informative)

inicom (81356) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824098)

Here's one [iht.com] from the International Herald Tribune.

Somebody please stomp out myminicity. It's seriously polluting /.

mod m0p (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21824128)

locating #GNAA, are looking v3ry OS don't fear the

Aperture Science We do what we must because we can (2, Funny)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824134)

Hey, I have a great idea! Aperture Science should launch a GLaDOS satellite!

Then we can all be test subjects and enjoy delicious and moist cake!

Re:Aperture Science We do what we must because we (1)

Cerberus7 (66071) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824304)

I had thoughts about cake after seeing the name of the Russian system, myself. As long as it doesn't offer to bake us, I guess we're ok.

Re:Aperture Science We do what we must because we (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824660)

I think they already did [myspace.com] .

Re:Aperture Science We do what we must because we (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 6 years ago | (#21825336)

The cake is a lie!

I strongly doubt the quality and reliability (0, Flamebait)

mi (197448) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824152)

The joke went like this:

  • Q: It does not hum and it would not go up your ass. What is it?
  • A: It is a Soviet-made hummer for going up people's asses.

Now, Russia is not exactly like Soviet Union, but it is not entirely dissimilar either. So even if they do provide coverage for other parts of the world and make it otherwise not worse than the current American offering, I strongly doubt, they'll achieve the same quality and reliability reputation as the existing system.

Only the "true patriots" will use the Russian system, unless the government decides to (heavily) sponsor the devices using it and try to ban/tax/discourage the others (in blatant violation of the Free Trade commitments, of course).

Re:I strongly doubt the quality and reliability (1)

BattleCat (244240) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824202)

At least our military won't fsck up in Chechnya mountains thanks to deliberate QoS degradation of GPS-provided coordinates over those regions during one of recent Chechen wars.

Re:I strongly doubt the quality and reliability (1)

mi (197448) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824356)

At least our military won't fsck up in Chechnya mountains thanks to deliberate QoS degradation of GPS-provided coordinates over those regions during one of recent Chechen wars.

But you will still fsck up there — and everywhere else in USSR — thanks to the deliberately incorrect Soviet maps :)

Re:I strongly doubt the quality and reliability (1, Troll)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824478)

Of course, the Russians have been kicking our asses in space technology ever since Sputnik.

Re:I strongly doubt the quality and reliability (1)

mi (197448) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824918)

Of course, the Russians have been kicking our asses in space technology ever since Sputnik.

Somehow I missed the news of the Soviets/Russians landing on the Moon, surveying Mars, and, to bring us back to the subject at hand, developing a reliable GPS technology (what we are discussing here, is a system with no practically usable devices yet, and covering only the territory of Russia itself).

Other than that, yes, they "have been kicking our asses in space technology". Sure...

Re:I strongly doubt the quality and reliability (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 6 years ago | (#21825056)

The Moon landings were a stunt, and I say that as someone whose father worked on the Apollo program. What they wanted to build was a sustainable program that would serve as a base for eventual colonization. What they were ordered to build instead was essentially a one-off. Technically impressive, sure, but Russian space tech from that era, in somewhat upgraded form, is still flying; American space tech from that era exists only as rusting static displays. We could have built something far better than anything the USSR could have come up with, I have no doubt, but we chose not to.

to bring us back to the subject at hand, developing a reliable GPS technology (what we are discussing here, is a system with no practically usable devices yet, and covering only the territory of Russia itself).

Straw man. The fact that they haven't built a worldwide GPS equivalent doesn't mean they're not going to do so; and given their track record, it's highly believable that they will. In areas where it has coverage, GLONASS works, right now, and adding more satellites will provide more coverage. It's really that simple.

Re:I strongly doubt the quality and reliability (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21825188)

I think your "logic" just killed my last brain cells.

Re:I strongly doubt the quality and reliability (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 6 years ago | (#21825312)

I think your "logic" just killed my last brain cells.

Well, if you're not familiar with the stuff, it can be pretty heady your first time.

Re:I strongly doubt the quality and reliability (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824638)

What free trade commitments?

Because kissing Mickey's arse is more important than the oil, gas and technological trade Russia did not become a part of any stinking trade agreements when it was interested. It is now one of the few nations that are not part of these agreements and is finding its ability to use this position to its advantage very appealing.

For example it can kick all Georgian, Moldovan imports and exports to Ukraine profilactically at its whim. If it was part of these agreements it would not have been able to. So I somehow do not see it becoming a part of these agreements any time soon...

Re:I strongly doubt the quality and reliability (1)

mi (197448) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824882)

What free trade commitments?

Russia really-really-really wants to join WTO [cbonds.info] .

For example it can kick all Georgian, Moldovan imports and exports to Ukraine profilactically at its whim.

Yes, it can. But then the WTO-members — all of whom have to approve every new would-be member — may get upset and one or two of them may go as far as veto Russia's entry into the organization.

And should Ukraine — or any other direct victim of Russia's meddling — join WTO before Russia, they will suddenly have serious defense against Russia's "profilactical" shenanigans with which the infamous "Prison of the Nations" is trying to rebuild its rotten empire.

Re:I strongly doubt the quality and reliability (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 6 years ago | (#21825092)

Here is some news for you. Georgia already is a member which means that Russia is not becoming a member anytime soon.

You screwed up the joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21824838)

Q: it hums but would not go ..

Re:You screwed up the joke (1)

mi (197448) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824886)

Q: it hums but would not go ..

Nope, that's the Chinese-made hummer. The Soviet-made would not even hum.

Dilemma? (2)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824170)

Hmmm...

A man with one GPS knows where he is; a man with two is never quite sure.

[Apologies to Lee Segall.]

Yeah! More GPS sat's (5, Informative)

C. Alan (623148) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824216)

This is good news for land surveyors everywhere. Most all surveyors have switched over to GPS based equipment in the last 10 years. I have been out in the field with GPS equipment, and watched my accuracy go to hell because there were not enough satilites above the horizon. Being able to pull signals from both systems means less downtime for land surveyors, and better field accuracy.

Engaget does not have one fact correct. Topcon has been offering surveying grade GPS units that can pull signals from both the US based system, and the GLONASS system for at least 3 years.

http://www.topconpositioning.com/uploads/tx_tttopconproducts/HiPerPro_Broch_REVB.pdf [topconpositioning.com]

BTW, if you are wondering how land surveyors get the accuracy down to 1cm for gps, it involves using two GPS recievers and a process called RTK. In RTK one reciever (the base) is placed over a known point, and equipped with a radio transmitter. This station transmitts a correction for the GPS signal to the other reciever (the rover). The results are very accurate, and our firm has pretty much stopped using conventional total station, except where vertical accuracy is an issue (gps is only good to 10cm in vertical accuracy).

Re:Yeah! More GPS sat's (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824314)

RTK is pretty much the same as DGPS. If you're a land surveyor and within 200-400 miles of a coast guard station transmitting DGPS correction signals, you have no need to have the "base" system at a known point.

Also, can you provide some geographic reference to where you haven't had enough satellites above the horizon?

Re:Yeah! More GPS sat's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21824560)

my guess is he's in the mountains.

Re:Yeah! More GPS sat's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21824812)

Woo-hoo! Way to spout off something you don't obviously have knowledge about. DGPS and RTK are different things and use different methods. DGPS will get you down to about 1m which is fine for your weekend car trip. . . not for surveying purposes except in very rare occasions. You still have multi-path issues and atmospheric ionization. At distance of more than 10-15 km atmospheric conditions will play a huge role in lessening accuracy. Do a search for DGPS vs RTK and you can enlighten yourself.

I used to think much the same as you. Then I started a company that develops high precision surveying equipment and discovered it wasn't as simple as I'd thought.

Re:Yeah! More GPS sat's (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824842)

I would think that RTK would be more accurate than DGPS.
If the Base system is at a known point only a few hundred feet from the rover then it should be a little more accurate than DGPS. From the Wikipedia.
"The United States Federal Radionavigation Plan and the IALA Recommendation on the Performance and Monitoring of DGNSS Services in the Band 283.5-325 kHz cite the United States Department of Transportation's 1993 estimated error growth of 0.67 m per 100 km from the broadcast site but measurements of accuracy in Portugal suggest a degradation of just 0.22 m per 100 km.[2]"
RTK bets DGPS in accuracy at the expense of speed.

Re:Yeah! More GPS sat's (1)

C. Alan (623148) | more than 6 years ago | (#21825080)

RTK is pretty much the same as DGPS. If you're a land surveyor and within 200-400 miles of a coast guard station transmitting DGPS correction signals, you have no need to have the "base" system at a known point.

Also, can you provide some geographic reference to where you haven't had enough satellites above the horizon?

Not exactly. DGPS requires post processing after you get back into the office in order to download the correction files from your reference station. In RTK the correction is done in realtime, so there is no post-processing required. This is particularly handy when you are trying to do something that requires you to find a calculated position (like laying out a buidling or grade staking).

DGPS is fine if you are wanting a position within a foot or two. The accuracy of a GPS calculated position is a function of the distance you are from your base station. Typically, we run our bases within 1 mile of the roving units to get acceptable horizontal accuracy (plus or minus 1 cm).

As for the satilite counts, The Leica 500 recievers we use have to have at least 5 good satilites to get a lock. Also, the recievers tend to filter out any satilites that are below 15 degress above the horizon, as atmospheric interference makes the signals from those too eratic to be of much use. There are some days when you pull up your onboard almanac, and see 8 satilites, but only 4 of them are useable. With the current stock of GPS satilies that are up there, you typically only see windows of an hour or two every 24 hours when you are down due to not enough satilites. Having a GLOSNOS enabled reciever pretty much eliminates these down times due to the fact that even an extra 8 satilies helps fill in the times when you don't have enough US GPS satilites avalible.

Surveying with 5 satilites is pretty dicy at best. You cant get up next to buildings, or trees without loosing lock. The ideal number is 8 good signals so you can move around next to objects, and loose a couple of signals, but still have a good lock on your position. Ten or twelve satilies is when we get our best results.

Re:Yeah! More GPS sat's (0, Troll)

magarity (164372) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824396)

Being able to pull signals from both systems means less downtime for land surveyors, and better field accuracy
 
No, it just means twice as many inaccurate readings. I think the different systems, operated by different countries' militaries, will NOT cheerfully work together to give you a better fix on your position.

Re:Yeah! More GPS sat's (3, Informative)

C. Alan (623148) | more than 6 years ago | (#21825114)

You might want to read the above post for how GPS works. You don't get your position from the satilites, you just get a time encoded signal. The reciever then uses the signal from at least 3 satilites to triangulate your position. If your reciever can recieve and interperate the signal fromt the GLOSNOS satilites, there is no reason why it can't use the results to augment the results you pulled calculated from the US GPS system.

Re:Yeah! More GPS sat's (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 6 years ago | (#21825166)


I think the different systems, operated by different countries' militaries, will NOT cheerfully work together to give you a better fix on your position.

I fail to see how it would be possible for the two systems to be made to not work together. More data points is always going to give you better information. If I measure the length of something using three different methods, each giving me a 10% error, I can always combine the three readings and obtain a better answer than just one. If I remember my statistics correctly, the errors can be made to cancel each other out.

The fact that someone has already made a receiver that does exactly this makes your statement hard to understand.

Re:Yeah! More GPS sat's (3, Informative)

Neil Jansen (955182) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824552)

I have been out in the field with GPS equipment, and watched my accuracy go to hell because there were not enough satilites above the horizon.
Maybe that was the case 10-15 years ago, but definitely not today. Not only do they have 31 out of 32 possible satellites in use, but there are even a few backup satellites up there in case something happens. On average you can expect 10+ satellites visible at any given time. Don't take my word for it though, you can easily load the current almanac [uscg.gov] into a viewer program and see for yourself.

If you're still having problems with your GPS receiver, maybe it's time to get a new one..

Given the limited number of geo-stationary spots (0, Flamebait)

Yold (473518) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824220)

orbiting earth, it's unfortunate that so many countries want their own positioning satellite systems. Its almost certain that global nuclear war would destroy all countries involved in creating their own private GPS-ish networks, so its really too bad that we all can't just share. Brings back memories of the cold-war =(

Re:Given the limited number of geo-stationary spot (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21824282)

GPS satellites are not in geostationary orbit. They are in non-equatorial medium earth orbit (roughly 12 hour period).

Re:Given the limited number of geo-stationary spot (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824378)

They aren't geosynchronous.

        Brett

Re:Given the limited number of geo-stationary spot (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824418)

Navigation systems don't use geostationary orbits.

Re:Given the limited number of geo-stationary spot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21824496)

One of them does... [wikipedia.org]

Signal gets YOU! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21824270)

The great prophecy will soon be fufilled...

Narrator: In Soviet Russia, A.D. 2101, beginning was war.
Captain: Happen what ?
Mechanic: The [WMD] bomb, somebody set up us.
Operator: GPS Signal gets you.
Captain: What!
...
Putin: You are gentlemen how??!!
Putin: All your base are belong to Koni.
Putin: On the way to destruction you are.
...
Operator: I for one, welcome our new GPS tracking robot overlords.

GLOWIN'ASS (1, Troll)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824344)

Not just for Soviet submarine crewmen anymore!

Re:GLOWIN'ASS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21824482)

viva le humorless moderator!

WWIII (1, Redundant)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824362)

Sounds like the world's getting ready to redraw some political boundaries and justify some defense spending.

Justifying defense spending (3, Insightful)

Bearpaw (13080) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824662)

Sounds like the world's getting ready to redraw some political boundaries and justify some defense spending.

Justifying defense spending is easy. Just line up your favorite talking heads on TV and have them talk about how the people who look different and talk weird really really hate freedom and want to kill all right-thinking peace-loving citizens. Have the talking heads subtly or not-so-subtly question the courage and patriotism of anybody who isn't pissing their pants over the supposedly imminent threat.

Then arrange to borrow the funding for the defense spending. This way, you can put off paying the bills until it's somebody else's problem. With any luck, your political opponent will be in office then, and you can criticize them for the economy that you screwed up. Bonus points if they try to raise taxes to pay off the debts you incurred -- or even just try to end the huge tax cuts you gave to your filthy-rich buddies. (Many of whom just happened to profit enormously from defense contracts and/or own the media corporations who practiced "balanced" journalism by not questioning your lies.)

Wheee! It's a fun game that everyone enjoys ... well, everyone you care about. The millions of poor dead bastards and their families, not so much. But no sweat -- with some careful handling, some of those grieving families can be the supposed threat for the next time your side is in office.

Re:Justifying defense spending (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21825372)

You make it sound 100% cynical, that the folks in favor of defense spending don't really believe it's needed. Every single soul who wants increased defense spending is a heartless bastard who doesn't care about the future, has filthy-rich buddies, doesn't care if there are millions of innocent dead, etc.

It's a good idea to take your government with a grain of salt, but this is just over-the-top.

I guess I should post a rant about the cynical leftists who keep people poor forever so that they can justify raising taxes to pay welfare benefits, who want minorities oppressed to make sure they never vote Republican, etc. But two strawmen do not make a right.

Whenever I hear or read something really extreme that I disagree with, I try to remind myself that it's likely that the extreme person is basically a decent person, and if I got to know them I might like them. If I got to know you, I might like you, even though you come off sounding like my political enemy. (And before you knee-jerk... I'm more of a small-l libertarian than anything else, but defense spending is IMHO one of the few legitimate things for government to be doing.)

Why alternatives? (3, Insightful)

loonicks (807801) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824400)

One of the most compelling reasons for deploying alternatives is that the US controls Navstar GPS. The US government can introduce random errors into the CA (civilian) codes, decreasing the accuracy of GPS receivers. This is called selective availability. US Military receivers can, of course, get the "correct" signal by being loaded with crypto keys to access P(Y) codes. Additionally, CA code (and even P-code), is susceptible to spoofing by the enemy. Obviously, without the right keys, GPS is hardly acceptable as a positioning system for non-US militaries.

Re:Why alternatives? (5, Interesting)

Local Land Surveyor (1208154) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824626)

For those of us in land surveying, having another few satelites is very important if your in a hurry. My current equipment (Topcon Hiper-lite) can obtain accuracy of less than 1 cm in less than 2 minutes just using the US GPS satelites and more accurate in less time using both US GPS and Russian GLONASS. Also, here are a few other interesting facts associated with GPS for Surveyors (who need sub-centimeter accuracy) 1) The more satelites the better (and my equipment which happens to be rebadged JAVAD) has been getting signals from GPS and GLONASS for a few years already, 2) The US stopped encoding the GPS signals under executive directive a year or more ago, and 3) The Eurpoean Union is working to put up their own GPS network which the latest generation of commercial survey grade receivers are already prepared for. So, for those of us whose business requires GPS, the article seems to be more about political posturing and less about anything new system-wise.

Re:Why alternatives? (2, Funny)

C. Alan (623148) | more than 6 years ago | (#21825254)

So you want to start a Leica VS Topcon flame war? No one here but us would understand the references.

I admit Leica has been behind the ball on adopting GLONASS, but I still like their post processing better. Multiple observations on a single point work out much better in Leica.

Banned in the USA? (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824722)

I wonder if the Russian system will have the equivalent offsets that the US system has, you know... to keep terrorists and other miscreants from using them to accurately call in artillery on the local police stations from home made, butane powered potato mortars.

Nah - USA is banned. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21825038)

I believe GLONASS would be acurate and open until BAD THING happens. But then, it will become encrypted and available to Russia military only.
Russia, unlike other countries, doesnt assault anyone over the globe, so there is no need for selective GLONASS access, unless someone assaults Russia itself.
BTW, if some country would want military-grade positioning, now it has two shops to choose :-)

Dupe (of a sort) (2, Interesting)

joggle (594025) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824826)

This is actually the second time GLONASS has become fully operational. The first time was back on February of 1996 (see 'Understanding GPS Principles and Applications [amazon.com] ' for details). However, older satellites started failing soon after and they weren't able to replace them quickly enough so the constellation quickly degraded in functionality.

No no. You've got it backward! (2, Funny)

CFD339 (795926) | more than 6 years ago | (#21824910)


In Soviet Russia, You give GPS directions!

What is this market? (1)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 6 years ago | (#21825024)

There is a big market for a "free* GPS system. That market is basically "the entire world".

It gets quite a bit smaller when there's a subscription fee involved. And even that market is quite small when there's a free alternative.

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