UK Defense Company Invents Alternative to GPS

August 14, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. positioning (adj.)
[puh-zish-uhn] – relating to the act of finding where something is placed
Example: The police used a positioning system to locate the missing girl.

2. signal (n.) [sig-nl] – an electric wave that can carry information
Example: I could not call him because bad weather disrupted mobile phone signals.

3. underground (adv.) [uhn-der-ground– under the surface of the earth
Example: The parking lot of the new shopping mall was built underground.

4. prototype (n.) [proh-tuh-tahyp] – the original form or model of an object that will still undergo development
Example: The inventor presented the machine’s prototype and his plans on how to improve it.

5. antenna (n.) [an-ten-uh] – a tool or device for sending and receiving electromagnetic signals
Example:  An antenna attached to the TV would allow stronger TV signals and better video quality.

Read the text below.

UK defense company BAE Systems recently made a new positioning system called “Navsop,” a navigation system that can be used as an alternative to technologies like global positioning system (GPS).

Navsop works by using signals from mobile phones, TVs, radios and wi-fi, unlike GPS that uses signals from navigation satellites located outside the planet.

Because Navsop uses signals that are near and easily accessible, it is more advantageous than GPS, which sometimes experiences loss of signals due to the far distance of satellites and natural space events like solar flares.

The new navigation system could help in locating victims inside buildings after a disaster or help in finding stolen cars hidden underground. Navsop can also be helpful during wars if the enemy’s GPS is turned off.

Although more advantageous, Navsop was not made to completely replace GPS, but rather to work alongside it or to be used as backup, says Dr. Ramsey Faragher of BAE Systems.

The Navsop navigation system is still currently under development. The prototype is a big, box-like device attached to a car with a radio antenna on the roof.

As the car drives around, Navsop studies weak GPS signals. The more GPS signals Navsop learns about, the less it focuses on them. The system instead tries to find  stronger nearby signals like radio signals.

BAE Systems are still not sure whether Navsop will be put on the market, but they believe it can be used by countries like Russia and China that are also developing satellite navigation technologies.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Do you believe that technology like Navsop should be available to everyone? Why or why not?
·         Can you think of any disadvantage of having so many kinds of navigation or positioning systems?

Discussion B

·         How do you think positioning systems like GPS have changed the way we live?
·         Are technologies like GPS a threat to people’s privacy?

August 14, 2012