India's own navigation system - can it replace GPS?

India has recently launched the indigenous regional navigation system. Will it be able to take the place of the American GPS navigation? Labelled as Desi GPS, it has been a great dream for ISRO. Will it succeed in replacing GPS? That is what we will try to find out in this article.

India is on the verge of having its own navigation system. The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite (IRNSS) as it is called, the service that is coming soon has been labelled as "India's own GPS". The current navigation system is operated and controlled by foreign nation, and may turn unusable in emergencies. The indigenous navigation system is expected to replace the American controlled Global Positioning System (GPS) soon. Here are few insights into the new initiative by the ISRO.

What is IRNSS?

The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System or IRNSS is an indigenous Navigation Satellite System that aims at providing real time accurate positioning service that has been planned to serve India and an extended area of around 1500 kilometers around it. The responsibility of deploying the service has been entrusted to ISRO which has already placed 4 satellites into the orbit.

Why India's own Navigation System?

Well, that should be a valid question. India has been using the American GPS or Global Positioning System since long. So much so that the term GPS has become synonymous with Navigation System. But, dependence on a navigation system controlled by a foreign country cannot be accurate for local conditions. There are instances where the data has been inaccurate.

The operator of any navigation system has the ability to degrade the service over any area, or country it desires to. This happens more in the cases of hostile conditions. Indian military has faced such kind of issues during Kargil Conflict. Having your own regional navigation will not bring up such issues.
And then, almost all major nations in the world have their own satellite navigation system. Why not India? Deploying such system would bring India in this prestigious line up.

Read more about GPS bus tracking system in Kerala.

How does IRNSS work?

IRNSS will have seven satellites into the orbit and a supporting ground station. The satellites will be so placed that they will have continuous radio visibility over India. The navigation signals will be transmitted in two modes of Precision Service and Special Positioning Service. The signals will be carried on L5 and S band.
The ground support will include a Master Control Center, ground stations to ensure the network integrity and a few additional ground stations to to track the signals. The Master control centre will check the satellite signals and run the navigation software after making applying necessary calculations and corrections.

Total cost of the project has been estimated to be Rs. 1420 Crore.
The service will operate under two modes - the Standard Positioning Service (SPS) and Restricted Service (RS). The SPS will be for the regular users like business, mobile phones and agriculture among others. The Restricted Service will be limited for defence purposes.

What's the development so far?

ISRO has set up a new Satellite Navigation Center within its campus in May, 2013. A series of twenty-one ground stations have been planned across the nation for accessing navigation signals. Four of the seven satellites have already been launched into the orbit.
Initial plan to was to launch a satellite every six months so that the system will be in place by 2015. But, it got delayed, as of now we have four satellites into the orbit and three more will join them by March 2016. The seven satellites will have IRNSS-1 prefixed. The first of the series, IRNSS-1A was sent onto the orbit in July, 2013. The rest of the three - IRNSS-1B, IRNSS-1C and IRNSS-D were deployed in April-2014, October-2014 and March-2015. Remaining three of them are planned for launch in January, February and March- 2016, the total system will be in place. The navigation service will be functional by the middle of 2016. The IRNSS signals being sent by the satellites already into the orbit have been under tests.

What are the advantages?

As per ISRO, the system will let them provide navigation connectivity to most rural parts of the nation by 2016. It has also been stated that it will be more accurate than the GPS. Adding a small hardware can enable smartphones to receive S band signals, while a software tweak would enable the device to get the L band signals. A source from ISRO states that
"both the S and L band signals are calculated by a special embedded software that eliminates atmospheric disturbances"
That means you will get far more better location mapping.

Being an Indian venture right from commissioning to maintaining, it would greatly benefit the Indian military intelligence. The regional navigation plan will help the military have an upper hand when it comes to urban warfare. The fact that it covers India and around 1500 km around its boundaries should play an important role in defence strategies.
Apart from that, it will amply benefit and can be used in areas like car navigation, shipment, surveys, town planning, disaster management and agriculture.
At the time of natural disasters and even for military surveillance, we have to depend on a foreign service. It indeed a scary thing to do with the risks of data theft, spying and associated manipulations.

The future and the challenges

The service is expected to fully functional by July, 2016. ISRO aims to make the signals available for the entire globe. ISRO is holding a series of meetings to discuss the inclusion of IRNSS into the mobile handheld and Global Information System devices. Some of the major mobile manufacturers are expected to attend the meeting. ISRO will attempt to explain the advantages of using an IRNSS.
The navigation system needs to be competitive enough. The GPS and GLONASS systems have become popular, and it would take much effort to surpass them. Especially, commercialisation of the service will be the key factor for the success. Also, hopefully- the device manufacturers will pay enough interest to include the necessary chip for the reception of IRNSS signals. We need to wait for what transpires between ISRO and the device manufacturers.

Final Say

If everything stays in line, IRNSS is indeed a revolutionary idea. It will help India plan its own standards of navigation. After GPS and GLONASS, it would definitely be the most reliable navigation system. Once ISRO succeeds in making it a success in regional navigation for India, it has bigger plans in place to go global. Till then let us keep our fingers crossed.

Article by Timmappa Kamat
Timmappa Kamat is a technology enthusiast. He has an active interest in newer technological developments. He is fond of new gizmos & gadgets. He loves to share his knowledge through tech-savvy websites as a freelancer. A Mechanical Engineer by profession, he is equally interested in blogging, with his own blog. He wants to carve a name for himself in blogging arena one day! If you need any clarifications about his articles,please respond here below or get in touch with him through his profile.

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Author: pranay anumula02 Jan 2016 Member Level: Gold   Points : 1

Yes, this will make India stand on top of all and with our own navigation system, we can expect much more accuracy and reliability. Which will leave GPS and by this we can show the development in our country and we can make a statement that we will not rely on all the things on European countries. My college also has one IRNSS receiver (CBIT Hyderabad).

Author: Timmappa Kamat04 Jan 2016 Member Level: Gold   Points : 1

Success of the initiative will be entirely dependent on how device manufacturers respond to the call given by ISRO. Hopefully, they will incorporate the necessary changes in their devices. Whether they succumb to the GPS lobby, or will work with ISRO will make or break the prospects of an indigenous navigation system.

Author: Timmappa Kamat12 Mar 2016 Member Level: Gold   Points : 3

Another satellite has been launched into the orbit. With this ISRO has moved more closer to the completion and executionofthe ambitious project. This will go a long way in making India self reliant in the field of navigation.
Two more satellites to go and next is the complete implementation of the swrvice. Let us hope rhe mission completes in a couple of months to come.

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