ISRO's IRNSS Indian GPS is closer to reality than you think

IRNSS stands for The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System that was built to offer an alternative to the American GPS or Global Positioning System that is widely, used by consumers on mobile phones to mapping giants and even the military to triangulate location.


Circa May 2013, India woke up to decide that it wanted to develop its own standards for navigation to usher in a new era in terrestrial, aerial and marine navigation services. Come 2014, the The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) delivered the same and launched the IRNSS 1C on board ISRO's PSLV C26 rocket.

IRNSS stands for The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System that was built to offer an alternative to the American GPS or Global Positioning System that is widely, used by consumers on mobile phones to mapping giants and even the military to triangulate location.

Having its own eyes in the skies meant that the government could now offer two services, a Standard Positioning Service that would work for civilian use and a high-end encrypted Restricted Service that was meant only for authorised users such as the armed forces. Again, even the US Air Force has been working on a similar program called the GPS Operational Control System, or OCX using a private technology company called Raytheon Company, which has been in development since 2010.

So India is still ahead in terms of turnaround, but the priorities certainly seem to have changed. Back in October this year G. Satheesh Reddy, scientific adviser to the defence minister, at the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) User Meet 2015 commented, "We have to keep one thing in mind, we always have GPS and GLONASS which are available worldwide… we need to compete with them in commercialization," in short, he prompted that Indians should demand for INRSS locationing chip in their cellphones, even though GPS is now the worldwide standard.

While this is a distant dream for now, the ISRO's IRNSS is not lost, as it is according to the ISRO, a better navigation system than GPS with precision time and location data. What also works in the ISRO's favour is the fact that the IRNSS was developed keeping in mind low cost simulators and receivers, which should again benefit the industry that is now witnessing a sea change with locally made products that use such services.

According to Deviprasad Karnik, the director, publication and public relations, ISRO the project is heading towards being operational by the middle of 2016.

Clearly what is missing is the implementation of IRNSS in devices, which is what Reddy was earlier rooting for. And if manufacturers fail to comply, we could indeed soon see a rule getting passed, that all devices manufactured in India must also be able to tap into the IRNSS. And considering the PM's Make in India initiative that seems to be on a roll, we could soon see this become a reality, if it gets an adequate push.

 


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