The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has many achievements that it can be proud of - and it may soon add another.
For the past few months, scientists at the organization are planning to move away from the American Global Positioning System (GPS) to make way for a home-grown navigation system titled the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS).
A major meeting was held in Bengaluru in October involving location and navigation device manufacturers, mobile phone manufacturers and other groups where ISRO demonstrated how the seven IRNSS constellation satellites could prove to be more accurate than the American GPS system.
As of now, the scientists claim that all seven satellites will be operational by July 2016.
Four of the satellites are already in space, while the remaining three are targeted for launch during January 2016 to March 2016.
"Once the constellation is completed, we need some time to establish the accuracy part, validation and other things. The advantage is that the navigation range has been designed to span around 1,500km radius around India. GPS is not available at all places. Signal is weak in remote areas but our own signal will be available in remote areas with better accuracy," Deviprasad Karnik, director, publication and public relations, ISRO told NDTV.
The satellites receive a signal from car and phone navigation systems via an antenna, which pin points to the location of the object. Following this, the object’s speed and direction is identified by the satellites with sensors and the information obtained, is run through an existing database of maps following which the person gets the recommended route.
The Times of India reported that unlike GPS, the IRNSS will have a small additional hardware in handheld devices that can receive S-Band signals from the satellites and a code in the phone software that receives L-Band signals.
"Both these L and S band signals received from seven satellite constellations of the IRNSS are being calculated by a special embedded software which reduces the errors caused by atmospheric disturbances significantly. This in turn gives a superior quality location accuracy than the American GPS system," a senior official told the newspaper.
The IRNSS is expected to be accurate to 20 metres, roughly the same as the GPS but the former will also have a high-end encrypted service, meant only for authorised users such as the armed forces, for tracking ships and air routes.
However, the IRNSS will have to vie with the GPS in terms of commercialization, as most phones today come with the in-built GPS.
“The industry has to play a very important role in seeing that we are able to manufacture our own receivers here which are able to incorporate IRNSS receivers into their systems or whichever (instruments and machines) are coming from abroad or manufactured abroad and brought here (should have IRNSS),” G. Satheesh Reddy, scientific adviser to the defence minister had said earlier.
As a report in Firspost puts it:
Clearly what is missing is the implementation of IRNSS in devices. 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.