Recent news reveals that the prototype of the third generation of GPS, which is called GPS Block III, is being tested at a Lockheed Martin complex in Colorado. The new system consists of about 32 satellites, 8 more than the current positioning system in use. After months of test the first satellite of this new global positioning system is to be launched into space in May 2014. The whole upgrade costs about some 5.5 billion dollars.
The new GPS system has made an important improvement in accuracy. At the moment, you could expect to get your location within 10 feet with a normal GPS receiver, while the new system will reduce it to 3 feet. This means when in place, your GPS system will not only be able to tell which road you are in, but as accurate as whether you are driving in roadway or walking in footway.
This improvement makes tracking down your missing mobile device easier. With higher accuracy, your search can narrow down to a few people in the area (sometimes just one person!). And you can easily find who among those people has your missing handset by playing a sound even if all of them own the same phone as yours. This is hardly imaginable in the past.
Another advance will be made is higher powered signals. As we all know when you are in a garage or a tall building or under a thick tree etc, your GPS receiver could hardly receive any signal from the satellites. And that is exactly why various network based or WiFi based tracking technology were developed. Well this won’t happen in the future. Block III will cover all those places its predecessor couldn’t.
This means a lot for mobile tracing. Just image then man who has got your cell phone enters into a building and you suddenly lost track of it. It must be frustrating! Well, this happens now and then. This Spring I took trip to a nearby city, at 4 in the morning I was waken up and took out my handset, then run Garmin to look at where I was. Although the vehicle was on a high way at the time without any buildings or trees, my cell phone GPS could not determine my location without A-GPS. However in the future the situation may improve when block III replace the current GPS system.
The last but not the least feature of Block III is that it will allow any receiver to connect to other navigation systems at the same time such as Galileo and GLONASS positioning system for enhanced precision. This could mean more options and better results, and you can always stay connected.
Generally these improvements all favor our cell phone tracing thing and we are yet waiting to see the actual results and impact on other GSM and WiFi based tracking systems.
Update, LockheedMartin recently announced that GPSIII satellite SV1 had passed the key system tests and the air force will get it in 2014, which means it could be launched into the sky by 2015.
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