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Galileo Navigation System Gets Go-Ahead From EU Parliament 178

Posted by timothy
from the und-wo-bin-ich-jetzt? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Plans to start up the EU's first global satellite navigation system (GNSS) built under civilian control, entirely independent of other navigation systems and yet interoperable with them, were approved by MEPs on Wednesday. Both parts of this global system — Galileo and EGNOS — will offer citizens a European alternative to America's GPS or Russia's Glonass signals. The Galileo system could be used in areas such as road safety, fee collection, traffic and parking management, fleet management, emergency call, goods tracking and tracing, online booking, safety of shipping, digital tachographs, animal transport, agricultural planning and environmental protection to drive growth and make citizens' lives easier."
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Galileo Navigation System Gets Go-Ahead From EU Parliament

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  • by the grace of R'hllor (530051) on Thursday November 21, 2013 @09:55AM (#45480681)
    Road tax per kilometer driven. By having a tracking device in every car. This has already been discussed in Dutch parliament, and so far has been rejected, but it probably won't be forever; I know people who are actually in favor of such draconian surveillance.

    Of course, a decade after that it will be used to collect speeding fines on all roads. Which makes sense from a government point of view, but would be a practical nightmare.
    • by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Thursday November 21, 2013 @10:11AM (#45480785) Journal
      In the US, whenever this comes up, people ask why not just check the odometer and charge a tax at vehicle re-registration.
      • by Joce640k (829181)

        Yeah, there's no possible way to fiddle that system.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by bluefoxlucid (723572)

          Considering it's been illegal as hell for decades to mess with the odometer, yeah. You're moving from regular fraud to tax fraud on a system built to be fraud-resistant. You can't even use a power drill to roll the numbers back now--and I've tried that on systems that let you, it takes eternity. To complicate the matter, even shit as old as 1980s has the numbers locked to the whole mechanical system controlling it; the stuff holding this together isn't bolted in, but rather cut and bent from a plate, so

          • by Joce640k (829181)

            Considering it's been illegal as hell for decades to mess with the odometer, yeah.

            If miles were taxed there'd be a lot more incentive for ordinary people to fiddle, not just dodgy used-car salesmen.

          • You wouldn't need to. It's a simple matter of disconnecting it entirely - drive, but don't rank up the miles. Might mean driving without a speedometer too, depending how it's built.

            I imagine on a modern car the engine control computer also keeps track though, so there'd be a discrepancy if anyone were suspicious enough to check.

            • In mechanical odo cars, the cluster is fitted over an interface with a solid square drive that connects to the speedo, and drives the odo. You'd have to disconnect the entire cluster to do that. Some such cars don't have a tach on the automatic transmission version, because it's too complex to set up mechanically and not relevant and so just added expense and potential breakage. You can swap the cluster, but then you have a different cluster with some random amount of mileage on it.

              In electronic control

          • No you can legally fudge the odometer, you just have to mention that on the title when you sell it. It varies by state, but in Arizona they call these "box c" cars (Box C is a portion of the title that indicates that the actual mileage of the car doesn't match what is listed on the odometer, and so writing down the mileage is optional.)

            Used car dealers do this all the time, though they tend to sell the cars as box A when they do so (box A is where you list the actual mileage.) Box B is where you put so many

          • by evilviper (135110)

            You're moving from regular fraud to tax fraud on a system built to be fraud-resistant

            You're also dramatically increasing the incentives for fraud, while still being terribly unlikely you would get caught.

            so you'd have to make some very visible changes (cut or bend aluminum to deformation) to actually manually roll the numbers.

            This is silly. The odometer and speedometer is controlled by two small wires coming from the transmission. It's TRIVIAL to disconnect them, and reconnect them for inspection. Then

            • Uh. In mechanical systems, the odometer is controlled by a mechanical linkage, not computer telling it to tick up slowly. Same for the speedometer. That's why people used to use power drills to roll it back, but it takes too long.

              In electronic systems, miles are recorded in the ECU. The odo is reading that, and will have to be connected for inspection. For technical reasons, you cannot disconnect the ECU during engine operation.

              • by evilviper (135110)

                In mechanical systems, the odometer is controlled by a mechanical linkage

                Uncommon since the early 90s.

                For technical reasons, you cannot disconnect the ECU during engine operation.

                You're an idiot. It would take you 30 seconds online to find out how to disconnect your speedometer/odometer. It will not otherwise impact operation in the slightest, and is trivially easy to do, as I said. Your transmission simply has a "speed sensor" that you can disconnect. I've done it on my own vehicles, so I can say, wi

          • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            A friend's late 90s Seat Alhambra was as easy as disconnecting a single cable. You lost the speedo as well and the mileage never increased. It was a company car with limited yearly mileage allowance and he liked to take it on long holiday drives.

      • The Dutch proposal called for a tax based on congestion. Busy road->more expensive, i.e. it was both time and place sensitive. The idea was to offer drivers a monetary incentive to not use the roads when they are busiest, alleviating traffic jams for those who do need to be on that road at that time. Odometers don't cut it for this use case.
        This would have replaced the current ownership tax in favor of a system where the heaviest users pay the most.

        • by Entropius (188861)

          If that tax isn't intended to be confiscatory or punitive (i.e. "we hate cars a lot", as with many urban planner types), but economic ("let's use price signals to balance supply and demand of a finite resource"), then it's a great idea -- so long as the data don't get used for something nefarious, which is a long shot. Some places in the US do this, with billboards saying things like "it's 50 cents to go this way", and transponders (EZPass) in the cars.

      • by knarf (34928)

        The idea with location-based taxation would be to set different rates for different roads and times - it would be more expensive to drive a clogged road at rush hour than it would be to drive the same road at an earlier or later hour.

    • by ledow (319597) on Thursday November 21, 2013 @10:13AM (#45480793) Homepage

      This is a stupidly expensive way to do road tax.

      If you want to do that, electronic booths are much simpler - Italy has them already. Any motorway, you take a ticket when you get on, pay when you get off. You don't need multi-billion pound satellite systems to do it.

      And Galileo doesn't "send" signals from the car to the satellites. The car "receives" the current position from the satellites. So there's absolutely NOTHING in this that couldn't be done without Galileo (hell, we have GPS for a start!). And, to be honest, the easiest tax is just to tax petrol and diesel more.

      Tracking devices in the car make NO difference here. If you want to tax, you do not need them, and they are actually easily tampered with / jammed and more costly than just deploying an ANPR or toll system anyway.

      Speeding fines on all roads? Fuck, to me that's reason enough to let them do it. STOP FUCKING BREAKING THE LAW. If you want to speed, campaign for higher speed limits (a proposal TOTALLY IGNORED by the electorate last time it was brought up in the UK political system), not disregarding the laws we have.

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        If you want to tax, you do not need them, and they are actually easily tampered with / jammed and more costly than just deploying an ANPR or toll system anyway.

        ANPR has several problems - you need cameras on every street corner, it lets the government know everywhere you go, people can put false plates on their cars, etc.

        (No, the government probably won't see any of those as a problem, but their opposition will...)

        A GPS system could just measure distance traveled, not locations or any other data. The car could refuse to work if it doesn't receive a GPS signal that makes sense. If it's in a tamper-proof box then hacking it could be difficult enough that most people

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by YrWrstNtmr (564987)
          The car could refuse to work if it doesn't receive a GPS signal that makes sense.

          Like when you go into a tunnel.
          • by Joce640k (829181)

            Gee, if only the car engineers could think of problems like that.

            Maybe you could call them and get involved in the design process. Without your input they might make a car whose engines switch off two microseconds after losing the GPS signal.

            • by 0123456 (636235)

              Without your input they might make a car whose engines switch off two microseconds after losing the GPS signal.

              So, brain box, exactly how long is a car to be allowed to run with no GPS signal?

          • by Joce640k (829181)

            The car could refuse to work if it doesn't receive a GPS signal that makes sense.

            Like when you go into a tunnel.

            That ^^ got modded "insightful"?

            In that case I expect this will get modded "Makes Cowboy Neil look like a luser":

            if (last_good_GPS_signal() == near_a_known_tunnel_entrance()) {
                use_the_speedo_to_calculate_distance();
            }
            else {
                use_the_GPS();
            }

            • by weilawei (897823)
              So you simply override the "speedo" to say you're always moving 0 units distance per unit time and define near_a_known_tunnel_entrance() as true, whether by modifying firmware or by falsifying the input signal. You were saying?
              • by weilawei (897823)
                On reconsideration, you'd likely want to redefine last_known_good_GPS_signal() to some constant value which would always evaluate true when compared against near_a_known_tunnel_entrance().

                It would take some engineering skill up front, but it's the sort of thing that could be commoditized.
        • by Painted (1343347)

          ANPR has several problems - you need cameras on every street corner, it lets the government know everywhere you go, people can put false plates on their cars, etc.

          (No, the government probably won't see any of those as a problem, but their opposition will...)

          A GPS system could just measure distance traveled, not locations or any other data. The car could refuse to work if it doesn't receive a GPS signal that makes sense. If it's in a tamper-proof box then hacking it could be difficult enough that most people wouldn't bother.

          So you don't trust plate readers, as the government can track you, but you believe that a GPS system will be used to ONLY measure "distance traveled, not locations or other data."

          Do you have any basic understanding on how GPS type systems work?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I really can't see how GPS (or galileo) (or odometer checking) could be more usefull than taxing the gas/diesel, since both systems could be cheated, but you cannot drive without gas.

        And there is another point of taxing gas (versus km driven): it estimulates people to buy more economic mileage cars.

        So, why change a system that (a) works and (b) it's fair to a system that can be cheated and it's not so fair?

        • by benlad (1368001)
          You could reduce congestion by taxing busy roads more than lightly used ones.
        • by Ngarrang (1023425)

          Electric Cars are to blame for Tax-By-Distance. Electric Cars don't pay petrol taxes. As more electric cars hit the road, taxes collected from petrol will keep going down, as the number of cars total continues to rise. Electric car drivers think they are getting a free pass, but they are about to get a rude awakening once the governments figure out a tax them equally. Roads are not free. They cost a lot of money to build and maintain, and those fat pigs called Electric Cars weighing as much as an SUV

        • by michrech (468134)

          As vehicles become more fuel efficient, the amount of tax you collect goes down. We are facing that problem in several states in the US, and said states are supposedly giving more thought to pay-as-you-drive taxes instead of more gas taxes (which, even if you do raise the taxes, as cars become more fuel efficient, you're tax revenue still declines).

          • by michrech (468134)

            Oops... That should be "your tax revenue", not "your're"... Can't believe I did that... :(

      • by hydrofix (1253498) on Thursday November 21, 2013 @10:53AM (#45481163)

        While I don't agree that camera surveillance or a ticket booth system on motorways in a solution for all parts of Europe, I think the military and economic applications of EU's own GPS system are probably more important than the surveillance applications. While a direct military confrontation with the USA and EU is exceedingly unlikely now, or at any point in the future (thanks to NATO), there could be future proxy wars where EU and US opinions differ, and where the US might conceivably use jamming of the GPS signals to e.g. to render EU wardrones inoperable. Such situation might arise in the Middle East for example, where Europeans seem more open to the Arab/Palestinian causes than the Americans, who are very staunchly allied with Israel. Or any other military situation involving proxies – bottom line is, it's not a bad idea to develop new military technology that's not dependent on tech by others, especially as wardrones are looking more and more like the future of warfare, and sooner or later EU must start producing its own wardrones.

        Further down the road, trade disputes between the US and EU are much more common and likely than any forms of military engagement. Should a trade dispute escalate, it's conceivable though unlikely, that there might develop a situation where the Americans would leverage their control over GPS as a weapon in trade negotiations, especially if the tech under dispute is dependent on positioning tech – like is true for more and more of new high tech. Look at what happened to Samsung in Apple v. Samsung – essentially a modern form of protectionism through a flawed trial by court. Hopefully not a sign of things to come.

        For EU, it's not a bad to have its own positioning system just in case for situations like those. While it seems currently very unlikely that the US would abuse its control over GPS in any situation, no one knows what future could hold. As deploying a GPS system is a process that takes years or decades to complete, if a need arises at some point, it's probably too late by then. Especially the wardrone tech seems like something that the EU might want its own GPS system for already now (think exporting this tech to countries not allied with US). And on the good side, I can imagine many worse uses for EU tax dollars than developing space technology!

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        This is a stupidly expensive way to do road tax.

        It would be ... if it was being built by a government just for road taxing, but it's not, and it isn't.

      • Electronic booths are simpler, but not cheaper when you have to blanket the entire country with them.

      • by Entropius (188861)

        Speeding fines on all roads? Fuck, to me that's reason enough to let them do it. STOP FUCKING BREAKING THE LAW. If you want to speed, campaign for higher speed limits (a proposal TOTALLY IGNORED by the electorate last time it was brought up in the UK political system), not disregarding the laws we have.

        You'll notice that on many roads, nearly all drivers go substantially faster than the speed limit. These are isolated roads (in the US: Eisenhower interstate highway system), not residential streets where bot

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        And Galileo doesn't "send" signals from the car to the satellites. The car "receives" the current position from the satellites. So there's absolutely NOTHING in this that couldn't be done without Galileo (hell, we have GPS for a start!). And, to be honest, the easiest tax is just to tax petrol and diesel more.

        You don't even need GPS to do that. Just use the odometer. It's how the US insurance trackers work - they don't have a GPS unit - they plug into the OBDII port and get the actual mileage from the car.

        E

    • by hydrofix (1253498)
      We're having the same debate here in Finland currently. Sadly, most people seem only concerned with the eternal "tax or no tax" debate, shortsightedly arguing this would hurt their interest group and favor some other group tax-wise. Very few in the public sphere seem concerned that this is at its core about establishing a government surveillance database about the precise location of every registered vehicle in the country, 24/7. Of course, the authorities are having the same mantra as always with more surv
    • Road tax per kilometer driven. By having a tracking device in every car. This has already been discussed in Dutch parliament, and so far has been rejected, but it probably won't be forever; I know people who are actually in favor of such draconian surveillance.

      It would only be discussed in Dutch parliament, as the Netherlands is very flat and has no mountains or tunnels.

      But why wouldn't they just use the car odometer?

    • by ivano (584883)
      What do you mean draconian? If, like a lot of /.-ers, you are libertarian how else will we pay for using the roads? A petrol/gas tax? But that's forced stealing - so you can't have that! The only far system is you-pay-as-you-go. The more miles you travel on the roads the more you need to pay. If you have a better system I would like to hear it.
    • by Xest (935314)

      Lots of these ideas get discussed but never go anywhere though. They've had the same discussion in the UK a few times but it's one of those issues that has so little public support they have zero hope of ever going ahead with it.

    • by havana9 (101033)
      I have a better idea, that could also give a reward for more efficient cars.
      Raise the taxes on fuel. Simple and effective. For lorries and buses, european legislation requires from the eighties that they're equipped with a tachigraph that will record the mileage and the peak speed.
  • Simply put, they don't trust us enough to use our system...and are willing to spend billions of Euros to prove it. Perhaps, maybe the GPS constellation should become a UN protectorate and no nation should be able to weaponize it... Just sayin'
    • by Joce640k (829181)

      You missed the key point, which is:

      under civilian control

      US civilians might be able to use it as well when the revolution comes ... just sayin'.

    • by fisted (2295862)

      Simply put, they don't trust us enough to use our system...

      Yep.

      and are willing to spend billions of Euros to prove it.

      Huh, now it's just about proving it? Think much?

      Perhaps, maybe the GPS constellation should become a UN protectorate and no nation should be able to weaponize it... Just sayin'

      Yeah, but then, to say it with your own words:

      Simply put, they don't trust us

    • by jcdr (178250)

      The Galileo is a old project started at the time when the GPS was really not trustable at all if your are not part of the USA military. Back to his time, USA military reserved any right to control the signal to lower his availability or his precision. Galileo was first a political move against this very real fact. This move somewhat changed the USA official claim by stating that the GPS signal will always be available without manual distortion. But this is only a claim. The pragmatic reality is that the USA

  • by oodaloop (1229816) on Thursday November 21, 2013 @10:00AM (#45480711)
    I love how the fantastic article has both global satellite navigation system and global navigation satellite system. If I weren't such a grammar nazi, I might be able to actually read an article. Dammit, I just split an infinitive!
    • by Noughmad (1044096)

      Well, obviously, you need both. You'd like a GNSS (a system of navigation satellites) to help you navigate. But how will the satellites navigate themselves? They need an additional GSNS (system for navigation of satellites).

    • by Lije Baley (88936)

      GNSS - Grammar Nazi Surveillance System

  • Plans to start up the EU's first global satellite navigation system (GNSS) built under civilian control,

    Well, it's either a GSNS or it should be global navigation satellite system. Pick one please. To be fair, at least the editors were able to cut and paste accurately.

  • Galileo/GPS are useful for so much more than just navigation. Being able to get a very accurate time signal anywhere in the world is very useful too. In my line of work we deploy seismometers to the bottom of the ocean, and the clocks on these instruments to be accurate to microseconds. We can get this kind of accuracy in the middle of the atlantic with nothing more than a 2U rackmount GPS clock and a small antenna. With chip-scale atomic clocks [wired.com] becoming widely available, having Galileo available as an even

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