Author Topic: Future of Navigation  (Read 4206 times)

Lost Soul

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Future of Navigation
« on: August 25, 2013, 09:59:11 AM »

This is a fascinating.  Drives home the point of the nightmare we are / have created for ourselves with an over reliance on GNSS.

BBC Radio 4 has broadcast a fascinating programme on the future of navigation.

We all rely on GPS - the Global Positioning System network of satellites - whether we want to or not.

From shipping to taxis to mobile phones, the goods we consume and the technology with which we run our lives depend upon a low-power, weak and vulnerable signal beamed from a few tonnes of electronics orbiting above our heads.

This dependence is a new Achilles' heel for the world's financial, commercial and military establishments. From North Korea's concerted disruption of the South's maritime and airborne fleet, to white van drivers' evading the boss's scrutiny over lunch, this signal is easy to jam, with disastrous consequences.

Some people are looking at alternatives.

The programme featured former RIN President Professor David Last, and is now available to listen to on the BBC's iPlayer website. to listen to the show, which expounds on eLoran, visit the link on this page.


http://www.rin.org.uk/news.aspx?ID=65&SectionID=23&ItemID=3092
« Last Edit: August 25, 2013, 01:28:28 PM by Lost Soul »

Lyle Brotherton

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Re: Future of Navigation
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2013, 09:49:58 AM »
This is a theme Lost Soul that resonates throughout this forum and not without good cause. The irony is that, in the main, as forum members we already are already cognisant of this risk, which is why we have both learned about how to use a map & compass proficiently.

At the same time, I am very aware of the seduction of becoming reliant only on satnavs, especially as their functionality improves. When not training, my map and compass invariably remain inside my rucksack, as I plot and follow my route using my handheld satnav. I also remember getting near to an ‘out of the way’ centre, somewhere West Yorkshire, where I was due to deliver training and turned on my TomTom only to find that the power cable was not in the car and neither was my road atlas!

Those members of the forum who are involved in the education of youngsters, such as Callum and Pete, I know do a tremendous job in teaching the correct use of map & compass. Yet, unfortunately, most youngsters do not receive such instruction and are very technology reliant. This is not to say that adults have not become so too, the results of which we continually see in mountain rescue incident reports. 
“Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance” - Plato

Hugh Westacott

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Re: Future of Navigation
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2013, 10:39:38 AM »
Here's a cautionary tale that occurred last Saturday and reported on the Grough website.

A walker on a Snowdonia peak had to be rescued after getting lost then realising he only had a map of part of Scotland with him. His problems were compounded when he damaged the mobile phone that he was using for its mapping. The man had gone on his own on to the Glyderau range on a clear evening with a bright moon to recce an upcoming mountain challenge. But a blanket of cloud descended on Glyder Fach and Glyder Fawr.

Unfortunately, he damaged the screen on the telephone making any further map reading impossible. He made a 999 call reporting that he was lost in dense cloud cover on Glyder Fach summit. The Ogwen MR team got a fix on his position using the Sarloc system which relies on sending a hyperlink to the person’s smartphone.

Hugh

captain paranoia

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Re: Future of Navigation
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2013, 05:57:38 PM »
Well, that's both a cautionary tale, and an encouraging one for technology, Hugh...

On the one hand, the lost person 'lost' their digital map (they could equally have lost a paper map).  On the other hand, the technology allowed the MRT to pinpoint his position, in dense fog.  A paper map would not have allowed them to do that.

As to the problem of reliance on GNSS, it's not merely a problem of navigation; GNSS provides three services (PNT); position, navigation and time.  And the latter service is used, increasingly, for a huge range on non-navigation activities, from mobile phone systems to banking systems.  Should we lose a GNSS constellation for some reason, there could be some interesting consequences if backup systems aren't in place.  Now, you might argue that, since GNSS time has replaced other sources of time, backup services are possible, and should exist.  However, they might not still be operational, having been supplanted by GNSS.  Resurrecting them might prove problematical if a system design has become reliant on GNSS timing.

The mention of eLoran reminds me of my former colleague, Dr Sally Basker, who, as Technical Director of the General Lighthouse Authority, was one of eLoran's proponents.  This article has an interesting look at a man-made 'triple whammy' of potential threats to GNSS, one of which is the proliferation of GNS systems themselves (I've said in the past the 'more satellites is good'; that ain't necessarily so, if they're spectrally co-located...).

The RIN website is always worth a look for interesting articles.

Lost Soul

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Re: Future of Navigation
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2013, 09:32:48 AM »
To my mind Lyle's comment "  - - the seduction of becoming reliant only on satnavs, especially as their functionality improves" hits the nail squarely on the head.

It takes considerable discipline not to do it.  Lyle has done it.  I have done it, particularly when flying - private / leisure flying that is. 

Its far to easy to use a dedicated hand held device or to have ones charts loaded (via Memory Map) on to a smart phone and follow what it then tells you, particularly when the work load is high or, you are over unfamiliar / feature diminished terrain / in poor visibility / marginal weather conditions.  Follow the GNSS gadget rather than setting course via DR and confirming one's position by correlating the landscape to the map.  One is very easily seduced into turning the gadget into an infallible  safety blanket. 

Seduced into believing that it will keep you all cuddly and warm and protect you from the realities of the big bad nasty world with out.  Not so at all, believe that at your peril.  Unfortunately that seductive belief has found its way right across most of the spectrum of GNSS users   In aviation these hand held devices, smart phones etc are classed as an aid to visual navigation.  And that is all they are, an aid to visual navigation, no more, no less.

Observation, map, compass, stop watch and immediate knowledge of winds and aircraft performance are the primary means of aeronautical visual navigation.  Due to the universal availability of cheap GNSS there are an awful lot of light aircraft whizzing about out there navigated by gadgets that give lots of information but are of questionable integrity and reliability.  And the reason they are cheap and of questionable integrity and reliability is that they have not been designed and constructed to the standards aviation demands for equipment that is critical to the safety of flight.  Hence only being labelled as an aid to visual navigation.  i.e. Use it to provide a secondary or tertiary opinion on position not the primary or sole means.

Thanks to institutional caution commercial aviation only uses GNSS as a means of navigation providing it is used in conjunction with and backed up by INS and conventional radio navigation aids. And those GNSS units are designed and built to very exacting standards, complete with internal integrity monitoring and price tags to match.  I distinctly remember in the mid 90s at the time GNSS was becoming a perceived must have in aviation a colleague of mine who had been tasked with institutionally reviewing the pros and cons of this wonder technology stating.  "We have all been up the mountain of euphoria and now we are coming down the other side with dreadful hangovers".  The hangovers continue.  Like all things indulge in moderation and know your limits.

Interestingly in respect of professional marine navigators I note from an article in RIN's Navigation News that both civil and military navigating officers are still trained in the dark arts of astro-navigation and are expected to maintain currency in its use.  And this for vessels that have multiple GNSS systems with allsorts of power supply redundancy built in. However, all of that redundancy can not mitigate for North Korea's mass jamming events for instance. 

On the other hand amateur marine navigators are by and large wholly and totally reliant on GNSS.  They have no back up skill or technology at all.  In many case their boats have sole systems or if duplicated are powered from the same electrical source.  If that goes down all nav systems are lost. 

Any way returning to hand held devices RIN is holding a one day conference in London on 26th November 13 Smartphones for Navigation – Do They Answer The Prayer?  http://www.rin.org.uk/events.aspx?ID=51&SectionID=23&ItemID=3043

« Last Edit: August 28, 2013, 06:56:14 PM by Lost Soul »

Hugh Westacott

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Re: Future of Navigation
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2013, 05:52:42 PM »
It was not my intention, CP, to favour one form of navigation over another, but to point out as Scotland's national poet once wrote

The best laid schemes o' mice and men
Gang aft a-gley'


which in modern parlance means If anything can go wrong, it will'.

The only thing that failed to go wrong in this instance was his phone; if that had failed to work he would have been in the soup. I'm firmly of the opinion that it is important to carry a variety of navigational aids.

Hugh

Lost Soul

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Re: Future of Navigation
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2013, 02:10:31 PM »
In his post above CP advises that GNSS provides wider services than just navigation.  Namely PNT.  All 3 services are vulnerable to system failure / corruption for what ever reason.  For those who are interested The RIN is running a 2 day conference on the 12 and 13 Feb 14. GNSS Vulnerabilities and Resilient PNT.

We all know about Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) like GPS. But do we know about their vulnerabilities? And how can we achieve resilient position, timing and navigation (PNT) in the event that GPS and similar signals go down?

The threats to GNSS availability continue to grow – jamming is easy, spoofing is possible - at the same time as more and more critical and commercial infrastructure is becoming reliant on GNSS. Work is progressing to make GNSS more resilient against threats such as jamming, spoofing, adjacent channel interference, space weather and signal obstruction. However, truly robust position, navigation and timing will always require a combination of dissimilar PNT technologies. This massive two-day event presents the very latest developments on all three of these topics: GNSS vulnerability, GNSS resilience and non-GNSS PNT technologies.


http://www.rin.org.uk/events.aspx?ID=51&SectionID=23&ItemID=3045

captain paranoia

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Re: Future of Navigation
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2013, 06:40:14 PM »
> The RIN is running a 2 day conference on the 12 and 13 Feb 14. GNSS Vulnerabilities and Resilient PNT.

Yes,  I spotted that...  the hyperlink in their timetable seemed to want to do something clever with a calendar, though, so I didn't hit it...  I did note the comment that the topic was so diverse it need a two-day conference...

As for GNSS use being very seductive, I agree wholeheartedly; it's just so very easy...

Hugh: don't worry, I was just commenting, too, and not trying to recommend one over the other.  In a recent UKC thread, I tried encourage someone asking 'which GPS' to learn to use map and compass first...

Skills4Survival

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Re: Future of Navigation
« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2013, 10:19:13 AM »
maybe a good backup GPS, if you buy a new phone (does need some cash though)
http://www.sammobile.com/2013/06/25/review-samsung-galaxy-s4-active-gt-i9295/
Ivo

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Re: Future of Navigation
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2013, 10:25:19 AM »
On previous post:
9.      Emergency Snap Shots
Safety assistance option is now a part of Galaxy S4 features, and it is mainly used during emergency. You can use the device to take photos using the front and rear camera simultaneously with this feature and send them to your predefined emergency contact numbers. Your recipient will have a better idea of where you are and what is current situation.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEGC2ku0zV8


Ivo

Lost Soul

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Re: Future of Navigation
« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2013, 10:30:19 AM »
Referring above to PNT issues and consequences introduced by CP. 

This months edition of Navigation News has a very good article on GNSS vulnerabilities, their implication and what can and needs to be done to protect and compensate for them.  It seems that between 6 and 7 % of the world's GDP is created using GNSS (timing in particular).  That output is created using well protected IT infrastructure that relies entirely on receiving weak unprotected external signals from GNSS satellites to control the timing functions. 

Cleary system functional hazard and failure modes and effects analyses have been improperly performed.  If preformed at all.  Scary.  As Adi very succinctly said else where on this forum when GNSS fails civilisation will be thrown back a hundred years.

Anyway unlike me, the article is not full of doom and gloom.  It does promote methodologies for the protection of the vulnerabilities.  The problem is, is anybody out there listening.  Or, are they systems that have been created by the iPhone generation who have been seduced into believing the GNSS mapping and "my location" functions are infallible.  Therefore, ergo, GNSS in general is totally safe, secure and infallible. 

MoonMan

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Re: Future of Navigation
« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2013, 11:18:27 PM »
I heard about this on BBC recently. It is good to have a genii in a bottle, but if the bottle should break? http://www.techweekeurope.co.uk/interview/gps-jamming-eloran-failover-109868
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