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The Military United Kingdom Technology

Is It Really GPS If It Doesn't Use Satellites? 298

Posted by Soulskill
from the is-it-really-a-hot-dog-if-it's-not-made-from-dogs? dept.
cartechboy writes: "GPS was originally developed by the military, but today it's in your smartphones, and soon, possibly your watches. Now the British military is developing something called quantum compass. The concept is a GPS-style navigation for submarines that doesn't use satellites. The quantum compass uses the movements of super-cooled subatomic particles to pinpoint a vessel's location. These particles, stored in a vacuum, react to the Earth's magnetic field. The movements caused by this interaction can be used for location positioning. At the moment, the Ministry of Defense's prototype resembles a '1-meter long shoe box,' so the next step is to miniaturize it. It could then be used by individual soldiers, as well as huge ships and submarines. Not only is it useful, but it's secure too—the technology is apparently interference-proof. Is this the future of navigation systems, or the reinvention of the compass? Possibly both."
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Is It Really GPS If It Doesn't Use Satellites?

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  • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@gmaPA ... m minus language> on Thursday May 22, 2014 @10:58AM (#47066187) Journal

    Good luck with that.

  • Well ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @10:58AM (#47066195) Homepage

    Does it provide you with an accurate position on the globe?

    As far as I know GPS means "global positioning system", and doesn't include the word satellite.

  • Light on facts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Captain_Chaos (103843) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @11:07AM (#47066339)

    The article is very unclear about how exactly these supercooled atomic particles tell them where they are on the globe. The impression I get is that it's just a more accurate form of inertial navigation. Or perhaps it compares the local magnetic and gravitational fields against some map of the Earth? I don't see how that would be immune to interference though, especially the magnetic part. And it would rely on an extremely accurate magnetic/gravitational map of the entire planet, which would have to be kept up to date as well as both those fields are constantly changing. Sounds very unpractical.

    I'll be very interested to see if something comes of this or if it will just turn out to be hot air and/or inaccurate reporting...

  • Re:Well ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CastrTroy (595695) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @11:10AM (#47066393) Homepage
    GPS specifically refers to the system created by the US military for tracking your position using a bunch of satellites they put up there. Just because the acronym expands out to something rather generic doesn't mean it doesn't mean a specific implementation. FTP expands out to File Transfer Protocol. That doesn't mean that bittorrent is FTP because it's also a protocol for transferring files. There are other systems like GLONASS that help you determine you position, and also use satellites. But it would be confusing to call them both GPS, because GPS refers to a specific implementation. If you're going to call things that aren't GPS as GPS, then you might as well call navigating by the stars GPS.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 22, 2014 @11:20AM (#47066519)

    No but a map, compass, and trained operator are.

  • Re:depends. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arth1 (260657) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @11:20AM (#47066529) Homepage Journal

    Are we saying global positionin system, a generalized term for systems that give you position data on the globe?
    Then yes.

    In that case, we're causing confusion, and should be using the already existing word - geodesy/geodesics.

    Using a well-known noun as if it were a generic term causes problems. People who ask what brand of xerox machine you have should be taken out and shot, and so should people who say GPS for other things than, well, GPS.

  • Re:Well ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @11:21AM (#47066543)

    GPS specifically refers to the system created by the US military for tracking your position using a bunch of satellites they put up there.

    This is only true because before the array of satellites deployed by the US military, there was no other system for finding your global position. With the advent of new technology that does the same thing, GPS should be generalized to refer to any system that does the same, not just one particular system.

  • Re:Well ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @11:30AM (#47066657) Homepage

    Exactly, and when you use the Russian system you dont use GPS. you use GLONASS. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G... [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:Well ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gl4ss (559668) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @11:43AM (#47066803) Homepage Journal

    "Non-Satellite GPS Could Soon Be A Thing"

    that's the only fucking thing on the article that refers to it as "gps". other references are "gps like".

    if wanting to be a total troll about it, I think it remains to be seen if us military will call this sort of positioning GPS or not.

  • Re:Not GPS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timeOday (582209) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @11:47AM (#47066843)
    It is not clear from the article whether or not this is ultimately an inertial system, but if so it's a huge leap beyond the current ones:

    It's a great deal more accurate than the current method used by submariners, which relies on accelerometers to pick up a vessel's movement while underwater. The accuracy difference is enough that a vessel surfacing after a day could be within three feet of its intended position--rather than up to a mile off.

    It sounds potentially very exciting. (Yet once again, 99% of the slashdot comments are debating the phrasing of the clickbait headline, instead of talking about the technology itself and potential impacts. It's really disappointing.)

  • Re:Well ... (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 22, 2014 @12:40PM (#47067479)

    Considering he did not even use the word Satellite at all, but you thought you needed to point that out. Do you walk up to strangers and say random things that have nothing to do at all with the conversation like this all the time?

    Also you are about 1 hour late with the joke.

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